bio_goldbergAdvocacy Background

Presented by Dr Gerald Goldberg,MD current President of the ADDSS


 

As current president I am writing on behalf of the Arizona Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery Society (ADDSS). Our Society is very young. With the help of the AAD it was formed 5 years ago. Advocacy was the motivating force in the creation of ADDSS. Arizona dermatologists wanted a voice. We knew we needed a state society to have our voices heard.

Dr Bill Halmi in 2013 started our advocacy endeavors by testing the legislative waters with a simple bill – an official Arizona Skin Cancer Awareness Day. In this first exercise we learned the legislative process. We also learned that something as seemingly uncontroversial as a Skin Cancer Awareness Bill can be (and was) met with resistance in a myriad of unpredictable ways. Despite unforeseen controversy – our Bill was passed. That year we also started laying the groundwork for a bill to protect minors from the dangers of indoor tanning. Dr. Halmi met with the Chairman of the AZ Senate Health Committee to present our concerns and pave the way for legislation which was proposed the following year.

In the subsequent year we worked with the Arizona Medical Association (ArMA) to help with our advocacy priority – a bill to protect minors from the dangers of indoor tanning. A resolution was presented and successfully passed at the ArMA annual meeting to support such legislative efforts.
Dr Ronald Hansen addressed the ArMA convention this past June and an additional resolution was again passed in support of restricting tanning for minors.
A couple of years ago, unbeknownst to us (or any other medical society) a freshman Congressman introduced an Indoor Tanning Safety Bill. Unfortunately, the Representative had not looked for support beyond her Facebook page (literally) before introducing this bill. We assisted her efforts with a grass roots campaign rallying local dermatologists to notify their legislators and to educate their patients to do the same. ADDSS also worked with the media to get the news out. Dr Halmi gave a formal presentation during the legislative session to the AZ House of Representatives Health Committee. Unfortunately, the bill died without ever being heard.
In our third year we expanded our advocacy efforts. ADDSS worked together with ArMA and the American Cancer Society (ACS) to lobby for Indoor tanning legislation. We were able to get the Chairman of the House Health Committee to sponsor our bill. Unfortunately, our bill was assigned to the Commerce Committee first where it was never brought to the floor.

Last year we were fortunate to earn a grant which provided us with funds to hire a lobbyist to support our further lobbying efforts. A tanning bill to restrict tanning by minors was again sponsored by the Chairman of the House Health Committee. This effort was supported by most members of the health committee, ArMA, the ADDSS, and the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately the house speaker did not even assign the bill to a committee so it died without being heard.
We have met with individual representatives in the health committee and others who support the bill and look forward to introducing legislation in the next legislative session coming up around the first of next year. We have attempted to create a grass roots petition campaign through change.org and will be forming a coalition of partners from the American Cancer Society, ArMA, AZ Cancer Center and our state ADDSS to have a legislative forum to educate our representatives as to what we are trying to achieve and to gain support for this legislation.

Other future issues include looking at a patient safety bill relative to regulating Med Spas and enforcing standards of care including appropriate clinician supervision and quality of care. Additional issues include that of MOC being linked to state licensure, and looking into ways the state society can help patients obtain needed medications at affordable prices.

Our state Dermatology Society has been a valuable resource in working with other State and National organizations to advance our mutual interests. Recently there was a poorly constructed “truth in advertising bill” which actually was worded to do more harm than good. It was the AADA that made us aware of this. We responded to their call and communicated the need for our members to contact their legislators and inform them of the bill’s deficiencies and to ask them not to support it. We had a great response from our members. The bill was not passed. On the national level we were alerted to poor language in a scope of practice resolution being presented at the AMA delegates meeting. Our state Dermatology Society working with our State Medical Society were able to alert our delegates and inform them of the poorly constructed resolution. Our delegates were very grateful. With input from them and others the resolution was dramatically re-worked to eliminate the unintended consequences.

We did score a recent victory last year. The Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency (ARRA) proposed for the first time to start to “regulate” electrocautery devices. ADDSS members alerted us to this and we quickly responded and investigated the issue. This newly enforced regulation was to include a $55 per unit per year registration fee and signage outside every room indicating “Danger: Radiofrequency Device in use”. This enforcement would have resulted in Arizona physicians paying hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for regulating a device that isn’t regulated in any other state. ADDSS gathered all of the pertinent facts and using the Arizona Medical Society as a liaison took our concerns to the ARRA. The ARRA was glad that we brought this to their attention and they subsequently acted to block the registration fees for regulation of electrocautery devices.

This year a national congressional effort to remove the tax on tanning beds was proposed and immediately opposed by our ADDSS as well as many other state and National organizations. This bill is evidently still pending in Congress at this time.
We raised the consciousness of the Dermatologists in our state to a patient medication access issue which was also strongly supported by our society. One of our members (Dr Ackerman) started a campaign to remove the “step edit” provision by one of our prime insurers (BCBS of AZ) to allow patients better access to expensive medications for management of their chronic psoriasis. We also worked in conjunction with the AADA to alert our representatives to support H.R. 1190, Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2015, which would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

Since the formation of our State Society, every year several board members have attended the annual AADA Legislative Conference. Dr. Goldberg will be attending this September’s conference- both the state summit and the legislative conference on behalf of the ADDSS.

The ADDSS is dedicated to working closely with AADA to achieve our common goals.