State Beat: News from the Frontlines

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November 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 11
State Beat: News from the Frontlines Jason Hansen, M.S., J.D.

Kentucky Governor Appoints Two Anesthesiologists to State Board of Medical Licensure

Governor Steve Beshear (KY-D) recently appointed two ASA member physician anesthesiologists to the State Board of Medical Licensure. Heidi M. Koenig, M.D., who was appointed in August, currently serves as president of the Kentucky Society of Anesthesiologists and holds the rank of professor within the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and serves as an Academic Advisory Dean at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Dr. Koenig’s term expires August 31, 2017. Jay S. Grider, D.O., Ph.D., who was appointed in May, holds the rank of Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Kentucky. There, Dr. Grider serves as the Division Chief of Pain and Regional Anesthesia as well as the Medical Director of the University of Kentucky’s Health Care Pain Services. With Drs. Koenig and Grinder’s appointments, physician anesthesiologists are members of boards of medical or osteopathic medicine in more than 30 states.


SCA/STS National Database Agreement signed Jan 28, 2013. Seated, from left: STS President Douglas E. Wood, M.D., and Solomon Aronson, M.D. Standing, from left: STS First Vice President David A. Fullerton, M.D.; STS Director of Quality DeLaine Schmitz; and STS Executive Director and General Counsel Robert A. Wynbrandt.


Due to the great power state medical and/or osteopathic boards wield, it is just as important to be active in positive advocacy with the boards as it is to advocate with elected officials. When new statutes involving health care and the practice of medicine are written, the board is often given statutory authority to flesh out the specifics of how that new law will actually affect physicians. This is the particular moment where poor statutes might possibly be improved through the regulatory process or, sadly, where helpful statutes can be rendered useless through board mismanagement. Boards also can take a stand against aggressive behavior on the part of other state boards, such as those representing insurance, health or nursing.


Regardless of whether your state has a physician anesthesiologist sitting on the board, getting to know the members of your board and offering yourself as a resource to the members is always good policy. The same is true for the members of boards of nursing, health and insurance. When a regulation is proposed, a comment period and opportunity to testify is communicated; for the sake of the profession and the patients in your community, it is essential that praise – or censure – is communicated within the appropriate timeframes.


Today, state boards often hold open meetings that are either available to watch online or listen in via conference call. Attending these meetings either in person or virtually can show your support and help remind the board that physicians are paying attention to the rulemaking process. Submitting comments to proposed regulation is as easy as sending an email or writing a letter. The few minutes it takes to get involved can mean all the difference in the world when it comes to the final drafting and adoption of a proposed regulation.



Claude Brunson, M.D. Elected President-Elect of Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA)

MSMA recently elected ASA member Claude Brunson, M.D. as its president-elect. Dr. Brunson serves as Senior Adviser to the Vice Chancellor for External Affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and holds the rank of professor within the Department of Anesthesiology.


Physician anesthesiologists holding elected leadership roles in state medical associations include:

• Kenneth Elmassian, D.O., President, Michigan State Medical Society

• Michael Flanagan, M.D., President, Medical Association of the State of Alabama

• Jim Grant, M.D., President-Elect, Michigan State Medical Society

• Christopher Young, M.D., President, Tennessee Medical Association


Involvement does not stop with membership in one’s state component society. Being active, taking on leadership roles and working with other specialties within the state medical society will lead to improved advocacy for physician anesthesiologists.


According to Dr. Elmassian, “there are several anesthesiologists in leadership roles in the house of medicine promoting physician-led health care. That said, we can use some more help! Stay relevant in your medical society, bring change to the AMA ... the rewards are priceless.”


Developing relationships with lawmakers is but one part of effective advocacy. Physician anesthesiologists who are leading their medical societies, being active in relevant state administrative agencies and becoming members/leaders of those agencies are truly safeguarding the profession and the patients it serves. If you are interested in finding out more about your state board or medical society and how to get involved, please contact Jason Hansen at or Erin Berry Philp at

Jason Hansen, M.S., J.D. is ASA Director of State Affairs.