President's Comments

Advocating on behalf of patients and physicians

Kara Dahl, MD
President, South Dakota State Medical Association

In November, the SDSMA Policy Council met in Pierre for our biannual meeting. I would like to share some of the highlights from this meeting and give you a few updates that have occurred since then.

Starting off the day, we were given several reports, two of which were from ad hoc committees. The Ad Hoc Committee on Membership chair, Susan Anderson, MD, was happy to report to the Policy Council that membership numbers were up in 2021 by 120 members and discussed that the current membership drive for 2022 is underway. Thank you to those who have recently renewed or become new members of the SDSMA. We continue to create value in your SDSMA membership by providing physicians a strong voice as we work together to improve healthcare across our State. Of note, the SDSMA has a new database and website that has improved the online renewal process. If you haven’t logged into the new site yet, be aware that your old password will not work. You should click “forgot password” to be prompted in creating a new one.

The Policy Council was given an update from Dean Krogman and Mark East on advocacy and government relations as we go into this legislative session. The SDSMA has been working on many issues over the past year and has formed ad hoc committees on physician wellness, marijuana, and scope of practice to further our efforts.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Physician Wellness chair, Robert Summerer, DO, spoke of the SDBMOE’s monitoring program and their proposed rules for regulation and oversight. As a part of the rules adoption process, the SDSMA asked the SDBMOE to clearly define the structure, criteria, and fees associated with their Health Professional Assistance Program (HPAP). Dr. Summerer also reported that the SDSMA is looking into a few options for wellness programs that would help physicians who are at risk for impairment. This is very timely as recent reports are demonstrating staggering numbers of physicians who consider themselves burned-out or as some physicians now refer to it as suffering from moral injury. The SDSMA would like to provide resources and assistance to physicians in a confidential and meaningful way. Currently, we are looking into contracting with Midwest Health Management Services of Sioux Falls. We will keep you posted with further updates as they become available.

Benjamin Aaker, MD, presented a report on marijuana for medical purposes. Lynne Valenti, the Deputy Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health, along with the Geno Adams, SDDOH Medical Cannabis Program manager, were present to give an overview of the current rules and process that has been implemented. Policy Council members had the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and give suggestions. Some of the concerns raised involved lack of physician access to the online registry, security of the website, physician involvement in recommending who can cultivate and home-grow, and the lack of a maximum for THC concentration. The SDSMA supports having a limitation on the percentage/concentration of THC in marijuana used for medical purposes and has asked that physicians be removed from the patient home cultivation certification process. The SDSMA will also advocate for access to the marijuana certification registry. The SDSMA will introduce legislation if needed, and support bills that are brought forth regarding these issues.

Dr. Aaker also gave a report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Scope of Practice and the ongoing efforts to work with the South Dakota Academy of Physician Assistants. Members of the ad hoc committee had a meeting with the academy’s leadership to listen to and discuss the concerns of the PAs but ultimately, the PAs want to practice independently and have perceived parity with the nurse practitioners in South Dakota. Members of the SDSMA will continue to meet with the academy’s leadership to see if the PAs’ concerns can be addressed.

During the meeting, the Doctor of the Day sign-up sheet was passed around. If you haven’t signed up for this yet, please do – you can find the remaining available dates and more information about the program here. This program is a great way to serve our legislators and staff at the State Capitol building and obtain a better understanding of the overall legislative process. This also provides the opportunity to network and interact with legislators from across the state.

Toward the end of the meeting, several of the organization’s older policy statements were reviewed and updated. This process occurs occasionally to ensure policy statements remain relevant to the current healthcare landscape within South Dakota.

I wish all of you and your families good health this winter and Happy Holidays!

South Dakota State Medical Association
2600 W 49th St Ste 100
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Phone: 605.336.1965 | Fax: 605.274.3274

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