With only 2 weeks remaining in the current session, please take a few minutes to complete the call-to-action messages to legislators below.
For the past year WSRS and WSRS PAC, in partnership with WSMA, has invested heavily with contributions and time to promote boosting Medicaid professional services reimbursement in WA state to Medicare levels. Currently at approximately 55-60 cents on the Medicare dollar for most imaging services, raising these reimbursements is long overdue. The Covered Lives Assessment (HB2476 & SB6309) leverages federal matching funds to create a budget neutral solution that makes good financial sense for WA state. It is not too late to act! Please lend your voice for inclusion of the Covered Lives Assessment to the state budget. Write to House and Senate budget chairs and your district legislators as instructed below.
WSRS PAC Chair
Act today: Ask your legislators in the House and Senate to add the covered lives assessment to the 2024 state operating budget. Send a message through the WSMA Take Action website
We ask that you also email budget chairs Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane) and Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett). You can use the following message as a template. Thank you for taking action today.
I’m writing to ask you to support adding HB 2476 and the covered lives assessment to strengthen the Medicaid program into the final budget package.
Designed to be cost-neutral to the state, the covered lives assessment in HB 2476 will draw down federal funds and allow Washington state physicians and advance care practitioners to provide more health care services to Medicaid enrollees. By increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for professional services delivered by physicians, physician assistants, and ARNPs, we can make meaningful improvements in access to care. This bill is a lifeline for our Medicaid patients and an opportunity for independent physician practices to keep their doors open for communities throughout Washington.
Please support patients with meaningful access to the care professionals they deserve.
Advocating on behalf of patients at the state capitol can help radiologists make a significant impact on lives while improving effectiveness of the specialty.
Under a new Washington State law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2024, patients who need medically necessary breast imaging no longer have to pay out of pocket, eliminating cost-sharing requirements that often caused people to skip the exams. The ACR Bulletin recently sat down with Peter R. Eby, MD, FACR, FSBI, section head of breast imaging for the Virginia Mason Medical Center Department of Radiology in Seattle and chair of the ACR Breast Screening and Emerging Technology Committee, to discuss his personal experience as a physician advocate who participated in getting the legislation passed.
Can you share your motivation behind advocating for this legislation, and what specific challenges did you encounter during the process?
The motivation was rooted in helping women access care when they need it. We as physicians recognize that some individuals are underinsured or face high deductibles, forcing them to make tough choices between spending on necessities like food, rent, utilities and getting follow-up care after screening mammograms.
We also understand that delays in cancer diagnosis can result in increased expenses or poorer outcomes. For example, discovering a lump in the shower shouldn’t force individuals to choose between a clinical diagnosis and putting food on the table. Our aim is to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic breast imaging, ensuring patients receive evaluations as soon as possible. The fear of out-of-pocket costs should not deter anyone from seeking timely diagnostic care, especially when it comes to potential breast health issues.
The legislative effort for diagnostic imaging unfolded in a single year, focusing on copay. While supplemental screening bills had been introduced in prior years, it did not gain universal backing as the diagnostic parity bill and lack of universal support, in turn, made it difficult to garner buy-in from legislators across all districts. The key difference was that the diagnostic screening bill garnered more support from legislators, as it could benefit anyone, regardless of their risk level, in all districts.
The fear of out-of-pocket costs should not deter anyone from seeking timely diagnostic care, especially when it comes to potential breast health issues.
An important lesson we learned from observing this bill written, advocated for and passed suggested to us that we have the option and power to introduce something. The diagnostic imaging bill was introduced by Komen and we joined that effort. When legislators reached out to us in prior sessions, we provided education and offered suggestions for correcting high-risk language or describing the patient population. However, those earlier bills didn’t gain traction to get out of committee.
Another notable difference in this last session was the full support from the medical community, along with support from other medical societies such as the Washington State Medical Association and the Komen organization. The sponsors were bipartisan, with clear bipartisan support evident from early testimonies. The primary resistance came from insurance companies, prompting discussions with fiscally conservative representatives about the anticipated costs. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner was also involved, stating that the fiscal impact would be borne by insurance companies and not the state budget, making it considerably easier to pass.
Did you encounter any unexpected developments in navigating the legislative landscape?
The process went fairly smoothly. Some legislators wanted to make tweaks, but we weighed in consistently to ensure clinical accuracy.
What strategies or alliances did you find most effective in building support for the legislation, both within the medical community and among policymakers?
The Washington State Radiological Society (WSRS) conducts an annual visit to Olympia, Washington. We try to bring WSRS members from as many districts as possible to meet face-to-face with senators and representatives. This particular bill was one of three measures that we identified as key pieces of interest, and during these visits, we aimed to connect with legislators to build support, answer questions and address concerns.
Were there any lessons learned during your advocacy efforts that could be valuable to others looking to pursue similar legislation?
Having prior examples of language that’s been vetted and refined in other states was incredibly helpful. It’s important to get the bill drafted well in advance. In Washington, our legislative sessions are either short or long, starting in December and extending to February or March. Showing up with a draft bill in December for the first time is not a viable approach. Our lobbyist always encourages us to check in with legislators during the summer to build and maintain relationships with our legislators during less busy times of the year. This proactive engagement keeps the legislation on their radar and allows for any necessary adjustments or refinements.
Leading with how the legislation benefits the patient and staying focused on that message is crucial during these meetings. Share scenarios and patient stories to emphasize the real-world impact and necessity of the bill. A key factor that significantly influenced the success of our legislation was the support of the committee chair. Having the committee chair’s backing held considerable sway and played a pivotal role in advancing the bill.
When providing testimony to committees, be aware of the required format and logistics, ensure that you have a clear understanding of the proceedings. Once you have your turn to speak, be efficient with your time, as you typically have only a brief window to convey your message. In your testimony, make sure to clearly state who you are, who you represent and your district. A little practice can go a long way, and it’s important to get these details right to avoid wasting your precious seconds.
Remember that making your points concisely and in the right order is essential. Learn from each experience and refine your approach for subsequent rounds of advocacy. Collaboration with experts and stakeholders can also enhance the effectiveness of your advocacy efforts because it allows you to enhance your messaging or to re-state important points.
The first time I was providing testimony to the committee, our lobbyist scheduled me for expert testimony and I was given a two-minute window. Virtual testimony turned out to be an efficient process, but I must add that two minutes go by quickly. Just to introduce yourself and your affiliation eats up 15 seconds, so you have to get to the point right away. For the second round of hearings, I was more efficient in preparing my notes and conveying my points. There are always opportunities to submit written testimony as well if you need to elaborate or give detailed explanations.
What advice would you give to other colleagues who are passionate about advocating for legislative change?
Two things about legislative involvement stood out to me personally. First, it absolutely can be done. This process showed us that we can get involved and help make it happen, impacting people’s lives on a daily basis. Once you see it happen, there’s more excitement about what we may achieve as WSRS. Second, I’ve published and spent energy on papers, I’ve worked closely with incredible radiologists, and I am proud of my achievements. However, this bill will likely have a more significant impact on patients’ lives than any paper I’ve ever published.
I keep thinking about that impact and contribution to the women of Washington and their families. The bill was passed and took effect 90 days after it was signed. What’s interesting is that it is not widely known.
Raising awareness is crucial, and we’re working on that aspect now. We’re partnering with breast cancer events and institutions, conducting Grand Rounds and presentations, and speaking to primary care doctors to spread the word. The post-legislative work, often overlooked, is essential in ensuring the legislation’s real impact on those it was designed to help.
The entire legislative experience this year was a powerful reminder of the importance of our advocacy efforts in improving healthcare access.
Where: The Historic Sorrento Hotel Penthouse
900 Madison St, Seattle, WA 98104
When: December 10, 2023 11-1:30pm
What: Connect, learn and have fun with colleagues in our community! This festive event, open to all women in Radiology, including radiology trainees and interested medical students. Brunch and cocktails will be provided.
The Washington State Radiological Society is proud to host our annual winter gathering and networking event for women radiologists. We invite you to connect with women leaders in our community from various career backgrounds to discuss tips, insights, and obstacles surrounding their careers. Residents, fellows, medical students and attending physicians are all welcome to attend. Please join us in person for socializing as we near the end of the year.
Please register for this event on our website by clicking the button below no later than December 3, 2023. Please also share and feel free to invite your fellow female radiology colleagues! Registration will include a full buffet brunch, refreshments, and valet parking.
What: This is a free event, open to all practicing women in Radiology, including radiology trainees and interested medical students.
The UW Women in Radiology group and the Washington State Radiological Society are proud to jointly host our annual spring mentorship and networking event for women radiologists. We invite you to connect with women leaders in our community from various career backgrounds to discuss tips, insights, and obstacles surrounding their careers. Residents, fellows, medical students and attending physicians are all welcome to attend. Please join us in person for socializing and for an exciting panel and discussion.
Lunch will be provided. Details and invitations to come!
Please also share with your fellow female radiology colleagues.
Sarah Bastawrous, Director, Women in Radiology Group, University of Washington
Rachel Gerson, Chair of Women and Diversity Committee, Washington State Radiological Society
The Young Professionals Section of WSRS is hosting a family-friendly event at Flatstick Pub in South Lake Union on Saturday November 18th from noon to 3 pm. Come hang out with your fellow rads while enjoying food, drinks, mini golf, and duffleboard. Spouses and kids are welcome. RSVP to Sean Wo (email@example.com)
When: Saturday Nov 18th 12-3 pm
Where: Flatstick Pub in South Lake Union, 609 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
The WSRS Board of Directors is pleased to announce a scholarship opportunity for practicing radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiological medical students and radiology residents/fellows who live at least 100 miles from Kirkland, WA to be able to attend the 2023 Annual Meeting.
Who is eligible:
Practicing radiologists and medical students or residents/fellows.
Attendees living/practicing at least 100 miles from the meeting location.
Expenses covered by scholarship:
Flights to and from the meeting city or car mileage if driving (reimbursed at $0.655 per mile)
Transportation to and from the airport at home and in the meeting city.
1 night hotel stay at the meeting location.
Meals during the travel period (up to $75/day)
Total not to exceed $750 per selected applicant, reimbursement of expenses paid with valid receipts.
Please join us on November 4, 2023, at our 2023 WSRS Annual Meeting. In addition to a full day of informative talks, we will be conducting elections of WSRS officers and several members of our Board of Directors at our society business meeting.
Saturday, November 4, 2023 7:30am – 5:15pm
The Woodmark Hotel and Spa
All dues paying and retired members are eligible to vote in this election.
At the annual meeting, additional nominations shall be accepted from the floor and election shall be by a vote of members present. A majority of votes cast for the slate shall be declared elected.
In accordance with our society’s bylaws, the Nominations Committee has recommended, and the Board of Trustees has approved the slate of councilors and alternate councilors listed below.
For your consideration, the recommended slate is as follows:
To serve 3-year terms as Councilors starting in June 2023:
Pooja Voria, MD (Seattle, WA)
Mariam Shehata, MD (Seattle, WA)
To serve 1-year terms as Alternate Councilors starting in June 2023:
Alfonso Urdaneta-Moncada, MD (Seattle, WA)
Shamus Moran, MD (Seattle, WA)
Baiju Shah, MD (Puyallup, WA)
Timothy Ng, MD (Vancouver, WA)
Jacob Thomas, MD (Renton, WA)
Benjamin Godwin, MD (Seattle, WA)
Yen Chin, MD (Spokane, WA)
WSRS is always interested in bringing in new engaged members to our Board of Directors to ensure a diversity of perspectives. If you are interested, or even just curious and have questions, please feel free to reach out to our Executive Director, Jena Rehm, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy New Year! A new year always brings the opportunity for a fresh start, something all of us desperately need. This past year has seen many fits and starts, as the variants have gone through half of the Greek alphabet. No one knows what the coming year will bring. I’m sure we will all continue to face challenges from the virus, but radiologists have always been resilient.
One thing every January does bring is a new legislative session in Olympia. As many of you know, state legislators only meet in Olympia for several months at the beginning of the year. This leads to a mad rush to pass legislation…and a mad rush for your Washington State Radiological Society to figure out what bills other groups are trying to pass. Thank goodness for our lobbyist Jim Hedrick! He summarizes in this newsletter some of the proposed bills that could have a profound impact on your practice.
With all of the state legislators gathered at the capital, your Washington State Radiological Society organizes an annual advocacy day to meet key members. Despite the trepidation from a half-day of back-to-back Zoom meetings, several WSRS Board members persevered this year, and met with Rep. Eileen Cody, the chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, as well as Ms. Jane Beyer from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, discussing all things balance billing. We also took the opportunity to meet our home representatives, keeping lines of communication open. Hopefully, we can meet our representatives and senators in person next year, and I encourage all of you to join us. No experience needed! We will make sure to team you up with someone more experienced when you talk with your legislators.
Many of your WSRS Board members are also preparing for the ACR Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, that runs April 24-27. Here we learn about multiple initiatives from the ACR, as well as challenges that radiologists in other states face (and often make their way to Washington State). We also represent our state as multiple ACR resolutions are debated, and Practice Parameters get discussed. While there, we take the opportunity to meet with our US Senators and Representatives, helping legislators understand the difficulties that radiologists face.
A new year always brings new challenges, but with them new opportunities. Your WSRS is well-positioned for both.
Wishing you and your families all the best in 2022,
Saturday, October 16th
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Virtual Event: Click here to register
This event is free for everyone!
Breast cancer awareness event presented by Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, Washington State Radiological Society, and Cierra Sisters.
Black women get more aggressive breast cancer at a younger age and die from it more often than White women. Screening and early detection are so important. Join us for an expert panel discussion to raise awareness and answer your questions.
Welcome message by Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Seahawks Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Dr. Robert Gutierrez, Chair of the WSRS Breast Imaging Task Force, will be moderating the panel.
Dr. Peter Eby, BITF and WSRS board member, will also be speaking.
Seahawks raffle prizes given out by mascot Blitz!!!!
The weariness of the past year and a half has weighed on all of us. Cancellation of elective procedures, PPE shortages, and waiting for COVID vaccines are all challenges that we have endured. Now, as social activities have started up in Washington State, we are warned of (or experiencing!) increasing case numbers from the Delta variant. It seems like this pandemic will never end….
Just like the obstacles that radiologists in Washington are constantly facing. Your WSRS is hard at work learning about these issues, and helping you meet the problems head-on. Did you know that Olympia has instituted a new “tax” on your wages? This begins in the new year (January 1, 2022), with the collections being used to fund a new Long-Term Care Trust, to ensure that there is funding for long-term care for Washingtonians in the future. There is NO cap on the amount being collected each year. If you have your own long-term care policy, you can apply for an exemption from the tax but you need to act well before the end of the year. Find out more details below.
Although the ACR Annual Meeting could not be held in person this year, you can access the Reference Committees’ final reports online. Several of your WSRS Board members were still able to meet with our congressional delegation over Zoom. We met with the staff of Sens. Murray and Cantwell, as well as our representatives, and even briefly chatted with Reps. Schrier and Newhouse. We talked about bills supporting the mental health of health care workers and finding a long-term solution for the reimbursement cuts to radiologists from changes in the E/M (Evaluation & Management) codes.
Our Residents and Fellows Section (RFS) has also been active in setting up a mentorship program for trainees. Drs. Mariam Shehata and Shamus Moran have been recruiting members to become mentors and matching them to residents with similar interests. If you would like to help guide radiologists-in-training (no formal training needed, just life experience!), please contact Dr. Moran for more information.
And Dr. Rachel Gerson was instrumental in coordinating another successful Women in Radiology Mentoring Event this spring. Of our 639 dues-paying WSRS members, only 26.3% are women. Even amongst our state’s members-in-training, only 36.7% are female. When 47.9% of US medical school graduates in 2018-19 are women (from AAMC website), there is a clear disparity for our specialty. More needs to be done to attract women to radiology, to ensure the strength in our field. Many thanks to Dr. Gerson for all of her efforts to make sure that women feel welcome.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions. I hope you take the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors this summer. I look forward to seeing you at our annual meeting this November!