Each year the State General Assembly, comprising of 99 representatives in the House and 33 senators in the Senate, meet from mid-January to about late April to deliberate issues. These members serve us at the State level and are not to be confused with the individuals who serve us at the Federal level (including Senators Lamar Alexander (up for reelection in 2014), and Bob Corker (up for reelection in 2018)). In Tennessee’s General Assembly much of the work on a bill is done in committee and many bills concerning the “House of Medicine” need to pass through committee prior to getting on the floor for vote. Much of the work ushering, keeping our bills alive and nurturing physician concerns are done by legislative liaisons. They work by testifying for physician’s interests on the hill, and lobbying behind the scene, driving our bills forward.
Undoubtedly, many of our bills are stronger if we can partner with other groups such as TNA, TAFP, TACS, THA, TAPA, etc. and their legislative lobbyists. Conversely, our bills may also meet with resistance from lobbyists representing other interest groups. Not infrequently it may take one year to lay the groundwork for a bill, and with perseverance, finally reap its passage after three or more years of “hammering” away for support while neutralizing the bill’s opponents. This takes time and capital. Do not be fooled into thinking “the other doc can take care of these issues while I practice and I do not need to get involved or contribute”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your money speaks whether given at the IMPACT level or given towards individual contributions and handshakes with your representative and senator from your district.
Yes, giving money to your medical subspecialty is no less worthy but these usually serve some interest at the federal level and often interests narrowed to your field of interest. TMA serves to support all physicians in Tennessee. And in response to those naysayers, there are many issues that unite ALL physicians. Additionally, you would be astonished to find how much influence you actually have as an INDIVIDUAL voice on medical expertise. Remember the average legislator has little more than a high school understanding of medicine and they listen to you! Contact your legislator state representative or senator and develop a relationship. Most will value your input.
TMA has intentionally designed their 2015 stated agenda with the purposed driven goal of decreasing the onerous “Business” of medicine and concentrating on how we can effect change which improves the practice of medicine. The challenges facing medicine today are couched in rising technology and staffing costs, increased downward regulatory pressure from the government, continued litigation pressure and premiums, and declining reimbursement from the insurance industry “bully”. It is no wonder that many physicians are moving toward hospital employment only to find a new set of pressures from employers placing them in clinical conflicts of interest, and pressures to see more for less with hidden contractual points of negotiation. With these pressures in mind KAM and TMA represent physicians.