Message from the President - Get Out the Vote

September 13, 2016

Dear Member Colleagues, Read-Smith-Samantha-headshot-jpg-(1).png

As we find ourselves hurtling towards an election with an uncertain outcome, we at Western Carolina Medical Society seek to stay centered with questions such as, “Why are we here? How will these elections affect our members? What in this election cycle is particularly relevant to us? How can we join in the political conversation?”

This election is very relevant to us, in Western North Carolina, North Carolina, and across the nation. Local, State, and national elections will help to define the future of healthcare--which parties control the Senate and the House, who our governor is, and who the president is will affect how we practice medicine and just as important, how the patient is able to access our care. You can easily join in the political conversation by researching candidate positions on issues important to medicine and by casting your vote. WCMS has made researching NC candidate positions a breeze for you: for a run down on WNC and governor candidates’ positions on issues such as mental health, access to care, and scope of practice, click here.

With the possibility of electing a new governor, Medicaid Expansion is back on the table. In this election cycle, Medicaid expansion is relevant to us as a medical society, and also defines why our voice is important. Expanding Medicaid will extend coverage to half a million low-income North Carolinians as well as bring jobs to our region. WCMS has created printed materials that you can display at your practices educating patients and staff on which candidates support Medicaid Expansion.

Our working environment is very much in flux, with major transitions underway related to the way physicians are paid for providing care.  Should this change the fundamental way we already practice excellent, patient-centered medicine? I hope not!

One of our goals at the medical society is to make sure that our professional physician voice does not get lost.  We do not want to be drowned out by loud and well-funded messages from insurers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, or anyone else who would like to dictate how we practice medicine.  Improve our practices? Yes! Innovate, create, collaborate? Yes! Learn how to operate in an increasingly complex and budget-constrained environment? Yes!  But we cannnot fail to take a stand for our patients and our profession, and we cannot fail to advocate for changes such as Medicaid Expansion.

So this is why WCMS is here. We are here to be a voice for all physicians, and now, physician assistants. We are here to reach across hospitals, specialties, and county lines to serve as the unified physicians’ voice for a healthy community.

And how does all of this affect membership? Well, the more physicians and physician assistants who join WCMS, the louder our voice. If you aren’t a member and you want your voice heard, sign up now.

Check out the “Legislative” tab on our website for resources to help stay on top of current local political issues – there you can find the 2016 candidate forum, legislative news, and the WNC vote tracker. Make your voice heard. Cast your vote, and tell your family, colleagues and friends to vote this election season.

Samantha Read-Smith
WCMS Association Board President