2022 Looks to Be A Very Busy Year in Physician Advocacy

Jan 4, 2022, 16:17 PM by MSDC Staff
Physicians will need to be strong advocates for and against the major issues MSDC expects the DC Council to debate this calendar year.

If you are a physician interested in advocacy or meeting with the DC Council, this will be a great year for you.

As we enter the second year of the Council cycle, MSDC sees a number of critical issues that likely will be discussed on the Council's agenda. There are many reasons for this but a key one is the backlog in issues delayed because of COVID concerns. With the Council operating remotely and needing to address numerous COVID-related legislation, issues that may have been discussed normally in the first year of a cycle are delayed to this year.

(To see a summary of this article, please enjoy this video of a presentation by MSDC Advocacy Committee Chair Dr. Klint Peebles)

First is a likely scope of practice discussion. DC Health has spoken openly about their intent to introduce a bill overhauling the Health Occupations Regulatory Act (HORA), the statute governing how medical professionals practice. DC Health has asked all the licensing boards in their jurisdiction to submit comments on changes needed. While legislative language has not been released, we anticipate there will be language of interest for DC physicians. The MSDC Board and Advocacy Committee have discussed preparations for analyzing and responding to the bill.

Second is long overdue insurance reforms. Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced a bill in late 2021 on copay accumulators. The bill would prohibit insurers from applying savings and discount programs to deductibles, meaning fewer savings for patients. MSDC is a strong supporter of this legislation and looks forward to a hearing on it to argue why this is needed legislation. We are also hearing prior authorization reform legislation could be considered as well.

Third is continued progress towards regional medical licensure or reciprocity. This took a major step forward in December when the DC Board of Medicine voted to recognize Maryland and Virginia's medical license requirements as substantially equivalent. That opens the door to DC creating through regulation a reciprocity process for Maryland and Virginia licensed physicians in good standing. MSDC has also heard the Council is interested in this issue and may take action on regional reciprocity based on the experiences of COVID-19 and the healthcare workforce.

Fourth is the budget process, an annual area of interest for MSDC. This year's budget will be different than last year's. A major reason is there is unlikely to be a major injection of federal relief funds like there was in 2021, which delayed that budget process. While the District's economy is sound, there will be hard decisions that need to be made on funding priorities. 

Finally, we will potentially see action on other items on the MSDC agenda as well as new issues introduced and debated. How can you prepare as a local physician or medical student?