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Executive Director's Update: Checking the Lists

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, November 30, 2018

Chet Seward,
Executive Director

As the end of the year rapidly approaches I have been checking my lists. Not the jolly-guy-in-a-red-suit type – I have been focused on the the list of things CSEPS has accomplished this year. It's  a long one. Highlights include:

  • Our membership numbers continue to be strong; 
  • Successful education events included one on risk management featuring OMIC, AAO President Keith Carter on the future of ophthalmology, Codequest, and an employment law seminar for young ophthalmologists; 
  • We sent another big contingent to DC to lobby for eyeMD priorities, had two more state legislators witness eye surgeries and see first-hand the intensity and skill of your profession, and held an incredibly well-attended inaugural legislative reception. 
  • Our advocacy work paid off as no eye care scope of practice expansions occurred and we made some other important progress on payer issues and the opioid crisis; 
  • It wasn't all work, as social mixers at TopGolf and with Colorado optometrists featured heaping helpings of laughter and camaraderie. 

None of this would have been possible without an incredible team. That "You Rock!" list starts first with you as a member of CSEPS. Thank you for your membership and for stepping up again to lead and serve in 2018 by answering legislative calls to action, attending CSEPS events, interviewing legislators, donating to EYEPAC, and last but certainly not least providing world-class eye care to patients every day. Special recognitions must also be made. My sincere thanks goes out to AAO and all of the ophthalmologists and staff of the Secretariat for State Affairs who are invaluable partners. Big thanks goes out to the CSEPS Legislative Committee who sifted through way too many bills over countless hours, and to our fierce and tireless lobbyists Chris and Angie Howes. I am grateful to all of the members of the CSEPS board of directors for your steady and strategic leadership. Special thanks for their service on the board as their terms end go out to Drs. Anjali Sheth, Brad Gustave and the irreplaceable Alan Kimura. Last but not least, I must share a heartfelt thank you to President Leo Seibold, MD, who is an embodiment of what it means to be a servant leader. 

 

Here's hoping that your end of year lists are similarly long, accomplished and grateful. Thank you for your membership. Happy holidays!

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Political forecast: 2019

Posted By Chris Howes, Friday, November 30, 2018

The results for Republicans on election night were not very pretty. The final tally in the Senate was: 19 Democrat seats to 16 Republicans seats. Veteran lawmaker (and veteran US Marine) Leroy Garcia was elected by his caucus to serve as Senate President. Boulder senator Steve Fenberg will serve as Majority Leader.

Speaker-elect KC Becker

Over in the House, the news was even better for Democrats, as they picked up 5 new seats, bringing the final tally to 41 Democrat seats to 25 Republican seats. A record-setting 25 of those 41 D seats are now held by women. All of those results assisted KC Becker in being elected as the next Colorado Speaker of the House. Alec Garnett of Denver will take over as the new Majority Leader.

We expect committees in both chambers to be chosen by leadership any day now. The huge difference in the House next year will be Democrats enjoying a TWO vote margin on most, if not all, committees. This will be a really big change for the vote-counters in the lobby.

The Democrats have announced that all the bills passed in 2018 in the Dem-controlled House that were killed by Republicans in the Senate will be coming back for a second, and no doubt successful run in 2019. With few exceptions, Republicans will have little chance to stop their legislative agenda now. There has been some scuttlebutt in the lobby about how Democrats have learned their lesson from their legislative excesses in 2014 when they won the battle over bills, but then promptly lost the war and control of the entire Senate chamber, so we will reserve judgement on how fast they will come charging out of the gate. We can sensibly expect many in their caucus to believe that their election night rout gives them a fresh mandate to govern on the issues they so passionately campaigned on.

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Work plan 2019

Posted By Chris Howes, Friday, November 30, 2018
Governor-elect Jared Polis

There is a new sheriff in town now, with brand new ideas on how government should function and a completely different style and background from Governor Hickenlooper. We will be setting meetings with members of the new Polis administration as soon as they get settled in their new offices. In those meetings with the administration and members of the new leadership teams in the House and Senate, we will reinforce ourlegislative agenda with them, but we will also have a number of questions to pose: Is the idea of a ColoradoCare program coming back any time soon and should our members prepare for the idea of single payer health care? What is the impact on your election to employers looking to fully staff successful businesses in an era of record-low unemployment?

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Conversations, connections and fun: CSEPS/COA social mixer

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, November 30, 2018

The tradition of breaking bread, sharing a drink and enjoying meaningful connections between ophthalmologists and optometrists continued in November. CSEPS and the Colorado Optometric Association (COA) once again co-hosted a no-agenda social mixer. The fun and funky location at Death & Company set the stage for a great evening. Thanks to all those that attended. If you missed it, then make a note now to make the next one. 

CSEPS President Leo Seibold, MD, (l) and President-elect Chris Thiagarajah, MD, (r) flank COA President Jon Pederson. OD. Chet Roe, MD, Jesse Smith, MD, and Marc Mathias, MD, are nothing but smiles.

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EYEPAC prowess

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 30, 2018


We know that you count on CSEPS to advocate for your priorities. EYEPAC, the CSEPS political action committee, was very busy during the 2018 election cycle. As part of a comprehensive advocacy strategy, EYEPAC interviewed and endorsed 28 friendly incumbent and or pro-ophthalmology candidates from both sides of the aisle. Twenty-seven of them won their election. One-on-one meetings with these legislators helped to build and strengthen relationships, along with educating them on CSEPS priorities including:

  • Supporting efforts to ensure access to quality, cost-effective eye care;
    Opposing inappropriate scope of practice expansions – surgery must only be done by surgeons;
  • Maintaining the stable medical liability climate by not changing the non-economic damage caps, as well as preserving peer review protections; and
  • Eliminating health plans administrative barriers, like prior authorization, that decrease access to care and waste provider resources.

CSEPS and EYEPAC express sincerely thank all ophthalmologists that made contributions and took time to interview these policymakers. The coming year will bring another action-packed legislative session. You can continue to count on CSEPS to be there championing ophthalmology’s priorities.

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EYEPAC endorsements: 2018

Posted By Chet Seward, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

EYEPAC, the CSEPS political action committee, has endorsed 30 candidates for the 2018 state general election in November. The election this fall will be momentous with especially tight races in the Colorado Senate where the Republicans are trying to hold their one seat majority. 

EYEPAC is purposely non-partisan, endorsing candidates on both sides of the aisle. The endorsement process considers a number of factors including whether the candidate is a friendly incumbent, likelihood of winning, and positions on eye physician priorities. Key priorities for the coming year include:

  • Patient access - Supporting efforts to ensure access to quality, cost-effective eye care;
  • Scope of practice - 
    Opposing inappropriate scope of practice expansion by other providers to protect the vision and safety of Coloradans;
    Surgery should be only done by surgeons;
  • Stable practice environment - 
    Maintaining a steady medical liability climate by preserving or lowering the current caps on noneconomic damages; 
    Opposing other efforts that would destabilize current systems and threaten patient safety;
    Preserving the strict confidentiality and other protections of the Colorado Professional Review Act to ensure patient safety;
  • Barriers to care - Eliminating health plans administrative barriers, like prior authorization, that decrease access to care and waste provider resources.

EYEPAC encourages Colorado ophthalmologists to vote and consider these candidates. Curious about who your legislator is? Find out here.

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CSEPS/COA social mixer: 11/13/2018

Posted By Chet Seward, Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Celebrate fall and professional relationships with the Colorado Society of 

Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the Colorado Optometric Association on Tuesday, October 13 from 5:30-7:00 pm. The event will be hosted at Death & Co., in the thriving RiNO neighborhood in Denver. This is your chance to unwind and reconnect with old and new ophthalmology and optometry friends at a no-agenda social mixer. Whether you want to talk shop with other eye care providers or savor an exquisite cocktail over an enjoyable conversation, this event is one you won't want to miss. Death & Co. is the perfect location. Don't take our word for it, here's what Death & Co says;

"It was thought that to drink alcohol was to live a life shadowed by death; that those who drank were keeping company with death. It's taken us nearly a century to restore flavor to the drink and class to the specialty cocktail. In our time, a night to celebrate life's simple pleasures with fine wine, exquisitely crafted cocktails, beautifully prepared food, and impeccable sipping spirits is a rare gift."

We couldn't agree more. Registration is free for all Colorado ophthalmologists and optometrists. Sign up now.

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Executive Director's Update: Relationships

Posted By Chet Seward, Tuesday, October 9, 2018
As I write this article ballots for the 2018 general election will be mailed in just a few weeks. This year’s election will be another big one for Colorado, not only because a new governor will have a new take on health care priorities, but also because of a number of razor tight races for control of the state senate where Republicans currently have a one-seat majority. Things don’t appear to be as close in the House where Democrats have a larger numbers lead, but you never know. As the campaign season heats up, CSEPS has been busy working to ensure your priorities are understood and supported no matter who is in power.

We have endorsed 30 candidates on both sides of the aisle and the past few months have been spent meeting with them one-on-one to share our priorities and to build relationships. Invariably, these candidates have some connection to ophthalmology given a personal condition or a surgery for a family member or close friend. Their stories provide opportunities to emphasize the importance of surgery only being done by surgeons and other priority issues. Often CSEPS physician members attend and the impact is profound. I remember the time a few weeks ago when Richard Kelmenson, MD, succinctly explained to his soon-to-be new state senator the importance of peer review and the impact that removing peer review protections (as the trial lawyers want to try to do next year) would have on patient safety and the stable liability climate in Colorado. These brief yet powerful connections help to cement relationships so that when the tough votes come at the legislature, your legislators know what to do or at the very least who to call for input on eyecare issues. Don’t forget to vote!

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Call for nominations

Posted By Chet Seward, Tuesday, October 9, 2018
CSEPS is seeking nominations for president-elect. The term for this position is calendar year 2019. The position will assume the presidency in 2020.

Help lead CSEPS and Colorado ophthalmology into the future. Submit your nominations or self-nominations to cseps@cms.org by November 15. A member-wide election will be held later this year. Contact CSEPS Executive Director Chet Seward if you have any questions.

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CSEPS joins AAO in push for prior auth relief

Posted By Chet Seward, Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Health plan administrative hassles, specifically prior authorization, are one of the leading practice pain points for ophthalmologists and other physicians. Problems with prior authorization can be particularly acute with Medicare Advantage health plans. 

Working closely with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), CSEPS recently sent letters to the Colorado congressional delegation asking that they sign onto a letter authored by Reps. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Ami Bera (D-CA). The Roe-Bera letter is being sent to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to direct Medicare Advantage plans to increase transparency, streamline the prior authorization process and minimize impacts on patients. Review the letter here.

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