The South Dakota State Orthopedic Society (SDSOS) received the 2015 State Orthopaedic Achievement Award for its role in ensuring that patients in the state are able to see their choice of physicians, regardless of the doctor’s network status. James MacDougal, MD, society president, accepted the award, which was presented during the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
Under the sponsorship of Stephen Eckrich, MD, South Dakota’s Board of Councilors (BOC) representative, and Peter A. Looby, MD, SDSOS vice president, the SDSOS spearheaded passage of Patient Choice Initiated Measure 17. The measure enables physicians to join a closed insurance network, provided they agree to the insurance company’s terms and conditions and work within the company’s coverage area.
The SDSOS was instrumental in obtaining more than 30,000 signatures and getting the measure added to the November 2014 general election ballot. South Dakota orthopaedic surgeons directly contributed more than $60,000—and the AAOS awarded the SDSOS a $30,000 grant—toward the campaign. The SDSOS also developed coalitions with other healthcare providers throughout the state to raise funds and develop a strategy to pass the measure. Members and officers of SDSOS, however, were responsible for 85 percent of the organizational efforts, coalition building, strategic planning, and media encounters.
Initiated Measure 17 was approved by voters and became law on Nov. 14, 2014. Passage ensures that “all healthcare providers, not just orthopaedic surgeons, will be able to continue to see patients with whom they already have established relationships and maintain the doctor/patient relationship that is vital to cost-effective, quality health care,” Dr. Eckrich said.
He added that the South Dakota campaign was closely watched across the country as narrow network plans have become much more prevalent in the newly evolving healthcare marketplace. “Clearly, the implications of this measure will be considered by many in the political and healthcare arena nationwide,” said Dr. Eckrich said.
The award recognizes the efforts of state societies in helping to achieve political change, providing opportunities for continuing medical education, and mentoring. It not only recognizes the society’s creativity in its approach to issues faced by its membership, but also honors the overall achievements of the society. The winner is selected by a subcommittee of the BOC State Orthopaedic Societies Committee.
Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org