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Know Your Local School Board Member and Use Your Gravitas

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“I’d like to see physical education classes, taught every day, brought back to all schools in Kentucky,” said Dr. Miren Asumendi of Louisville to a round of applause after she stepped up to the microphone and addressed Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson at the KMA Annual Meeting on September 16, 2014. “I can tell you from my practice that exercise benefits mental health as well as physical health.”

Exercise and physical therapy rehabilitation in conjunction with minimally invasive joint and spine surgery is a recurring theme running through this edition of MD-Update. In alignment with that theme, Dr. David Bensema, KMA president, says that reducing obesity among Kentuckians is this year’s KMA primary focus.

Abramson emphatically stated in his speech that economic decision-makers are focusing on the health of the population, including “the BMI of our 9th graders” when determining to locate in Kentucky. That’s a report card we know that puts Kentucky near the bottom in many health categories.

The good news, according the Abramson, is that some progress is being made. Having 527,000 Kentuckians now with health insurance through Kynect should improve access to preventative health care. Kyhealthnow, “the state’s aggressive and wide-ranging health initiative sets goals and strategies for the health outcomes of Kentucky citizens.” Medicaid now covers smoking cessation treatments.

Speaking of smoking cessation, Abramson noted how in the past 2014 session, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed “Smoke Free Kentucky” legislation, but the Republican-controlled Senate did not. According to Abramson, there are 173 school districts in Kentucky but only about 34 are smoke and tobacco-use free.

What can you do if you believe in the health and economic benefits of a Smoke Free Kentucky? “Get to know your local school board member,” says Abramson, “as well as your local legislator. Hold them accountable. Doctors have Gravitas. They’ll listen to you.”

Do you know the name of your local state representatives or school board members? I know their names, but they don’t know me. I think I’ll give them a call.


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