March 2022 Legislative Update

One of the primary roles of HMA is to advocate on behalf of physicians and the issues most important to them. Some in our community think that this is just about maintaining physician control over healthcare, including workforce and reimbursements. What drives the perspective of physicians, however, is an uncompromising commitment to ensuring the delivery of safe, affordable, and high-quality healthcare which improves and maintains the health of their patients.

The complexity of both the healthcare system and the legislative process make effective advocacy efforts a time-consuming process. One example is the collaborative work that HMA has done with the Hawaii Radiological Society (HRS) to increase availability of mammographic screenings and significantly reduce breast cancer deaths and morbidity in our state. In the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, HMA has testified heavily in support of several bills which would advance mammography screening. The current US Preventive Services Task Force (USPFTF) guidelines, which recommend breast cancer screening beginning at age 50, fail to recognize that women in Hawaii between the ages of 40-49 have a higher incidence of breast cancer compared to the US national average, particularly in Asian and Native Hawaiian populations.

Throughout this process we have learned that, while there is wide support for this mammography legislation, such legislation could be substantially strengthened if the state auditor prepared a report addressing the possible consequences of a new mandate (e.g., costs involved and impact of federal laws). Listening and learning together has led to a proposed concurrent resolution which would have the state auditor undertake such a study, with the results to be submitted to the state legislature prior to next year’s session. It has been introduced in the House as HCR 33, and we expect a companion concurrent
resolution to also be introduced in the Senate shortly.

It is important that HMA members support this resolution so that this report can be published. This will prepare the way for mammography legislation next year, potentially saving the lives of women across the state. This is not flashy and splashy work, but it is a real-world example of the advocacy and teamwork that HMA does on behalf of all Hawaii physicians and the patients that we serve.

The Voice of One,
The Strength of Many.