Pennsylvania Medical Society

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A group representing 20,000 Pennsylvania doctors and medical students is hoping to shed light on continued disparities in health care access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is recommending expanded access, increased research and funding for research, and a better dissemination of research results.

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  The Pennsylvania Medical Society won’t support medicinal marijuana legalization until further research better proves its viability as a treatment option. That position was one of several adopted at the group’s annual House of Delegates meeting late last month.

According to a recent poll conducted the Pennsylvania Medical Society, there have been changes in the experiences people have had accessing health care.

“It seems that most patients are able to access health care within a reasonable period of time,” said Karen Rizzo, a practicing physician and President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.  “It seems that their out-of-pocket expense is increasing for about 37 percent of the patients surveyed.”

Of the 700 people polled, 53 percent said their out of pocket expenses were about the same, and 8 percent saw a reduction in cost.

The state’s major doctors lobby is already gearing up to oppose plans to reduce or eliminate property taxes.

Plans to curb or kill the property taxes levied by school districts didn’t get very far last legislative session. Lawmakers are in the process of reintroducing those proposals.

But the Pennsylvania Medical Society said both proposals would stick medical doctors and their patients with a higher bill.

Advocates supporting medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania ran out of time and political good will last year, but people on both sides of the debate expect the issue to remain hot in 2015.

The health community is divided, with the state nurses' association supporting legalization, but the commonwealth doctors' group urging caution.

Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) legislative counsel Scot Chadwick said, for now, marijuana remains far too mysterious.

Changes are coming to Medicare, the insurance plan for seniors and disabled, in 2015. This will affect the way physicians deliver care and the way patients receive care. 

Officials from the Pennsylvania Medical Society discussed some of the changes in a conference call on Monday. Providers will have to provide quality measure data or be penalized in 2015.

Mary Ellen Corum, the group’s director of practice support, said that this is an arduous process.

As the death toll from the Ebola virus in African continues to climb, and with two Americans infected with the disease coming back to the states for treatment, health officials are trying to calm fears that an outbreak could happen here.

“There’s been concern that bringing these ill Americans home will cause spread of the disease in the U.S. This is not a reasonable concern,” said Carrie DeLone, MD, Pennsylvania’s Physician General. “These individuals are contained in a bubble environment during transport and remain so until they get to their isolation unit here”

The Pennsylvania Medical Society wants to light a flame under e-cigarette regulations.

More than 200 physicians called on the state legislature to pass electronic cigarette legislation similar to existing tobacco laws. 

The physicians met at the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s annual meeting over the weekend and expressed concerns about the devices.

E-cigarettes are marketed as a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes, but the battery-powered devices give smokers doses of nicotine and other additives in an aerosol.

Patients and those seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act aren’t the only ones fighting confusion. Physicians also have a lot of new things to deal with. Representatives with the Pennsylvania Medical Society say there are many confusing points, including understanding how people will be enrolled in the insurance exchanges that opened Monday.