22nd Annual Midwestern Regional Conference

Event Date(s): 
June 25-27, 2015
Kansas City, Kansas
Event category: 

The 22nd Annual Midwestern Regional Conference took place on Thursday June 25 - Saturday June 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas. Women state legislators from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin were in attendance. The meeting convened women state legislators throughout the Midwestern region to discuss cutting-edge public policy issues including diabetes, women’s health, energy, the environment, education, economic development, and more.


View the conference proceedings below:

KanCare: Improving Health Outcomes with Coordinated Care
Women In Government was thrilled to welcome Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, MD to our event to speak about how Kansas has contracted with health plans to coordinate healthcare for nearly all Medicaid beneficiaries. In total, KanCare delivers integrated care to more than 360,000 consumers across the state, after hosting a number of widely popular town hall meetings. Discussion centered on bottom line financials

  • Visit KanCare website to learn more.

The Importance of Clinical Trials
Jocelyn Ulrich, MPH, the Deputy Vice President of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs at PhRMA gave a comprehensive background on how clinical trials are critical in finding what works best in treating diseases like cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the biggest barrier to completing clinical trials is that not enough people take part in them. Fewer than 5 percent of adults with cancer will take part in a clinical trial for a variety of reasons, including fear over costs and insurance coverage, and lack of knowledge about the opportunity. Ms. Ulrich was joined by Lisa Cone-Swartz from the Parkinson's Disease Foundation to speak to her experience as well. Questions centered on the need for clinical trials for women and minorities specifically, and finding a way that legislators can support that.

  • Watch this video for a run-down on the entire clinical trial process
  • Visit the National Institutes of Health to access an online database that can be searched to find appropriate trials; www.clinicaltrials.gov
  • Visit www.joininim.org to access the National Minority Quality Forum's resources on clinical trials
  • View this fact sheet for more information
  • Access PhRMA's complete clinical trial principles here

Higher Education in the States
Teresa Lubbers, MPA, the Commissioner of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education was joined by Allison Bell, PhD, Senior Associate for HCM Strategists, LLC to discuss higher education attainment. An increasing proportion of Americans are not obtaining high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials, limiting their potential. This session will focus on the attainment goals of each state and give policy makers the knowledge and tools needed to improve attainment rates. The conversation focused on affordability, and the need to focus on increasing rates for minority populations in particular. 

  • Read HCM's blog on higher education here.
  • Visit the Indiana Commission on Higher Education's website for more information on Commissioner Lubber's work here.

Adult Beverages: History & Update
This session welcomed Kevin Kosar, PhD, from the R Street Institute, Oklahoma Senator Stephanie Bice, and Teri Quimby, JD, ther Commissioner of Michigan Liquor Control to discuss the history of alcohol sales and how states are looking at modernizing and updating adult beverage laws in a broader sense.

Prescription Drug Abuse
Bob Twillman, PhD, the Executive Director  of the American Academy of Pain Management spoke about how pervasive prescription drug abuse is, on how Prescription Drug Monitoring programs support access to legitimate medical use of controlled substances, facilitate and encourage the identification, intervention with and treatment of persons addicted to prescription drugs, and inform public health initiatives through outlining use and abuse trends.

  • Access Bob Twillman's presentation here

Keeping Stable Patients on Their Medications
Amanda Chesley, JD, the Executive Director of the Rheumatology Division of WJ Weiser & Associates and Mark Guimond, Director of State Legislative Affairs of the Arthritis Foundation spoke about the importance of achieving control of chronic life-long conditions. Patient safety, the physician-patient relationship, and the role of medication switching is important in the process of achieving stability. Medication switching is when insurers force patients on biologics to switch theraphy with the sole purpose of reducing costs for the plan. The presentation touched on the options available to legislators to prohibit insurers from excluding converage to certain medicines. 

  • Access the presentation here
  • Access the Medication Stability Coalition (MedStaC) one-pager on medication switching here
  • Access the MedStaC Frequently Asked Questions here
  • Access the MedStaC Social Media How-to here
  • Access the MedStaC Sample Press Release here

Energy Focus: 111(d) Regulations
Gina Bowman, Vice President of Government Relations for CVR Energy, Inc., and Brad Loveless, MS, Executive Director for Westar Energy spoke about  the US Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. As proposed, the new rule, 111(d), would provide the states with the flexibility to comply with the requirements and though the rule is still being finalized, compliance is expected by 2030. The panel commented on how this ruling affects different sectors of the industry and provided legislators with resources to stay aware of how their state is adjusting. 

Foster Care Alternatives
Andrew Brown, JD, Senior Fellow for The Foundation for Government Accountability presented on the Safe Families for Children organization. This organization is solely focused on preventing kids from entering foster care, and the session focused on alternative options to trandiational foster care. Frequently, foster kids enter the system becase of short-tem crisis, often for minor infractions, that lead to neglect and abuse down the road because the families are overwhelmed. 

  • Learn more about Safe Families for Children here.

Major Issues of Water Quantity & Quality in the Midwest
Burke Griggs, PhD, Assitant Attorney General for the State of Kansas and Fellow for the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University briefed legislators on the most prominent issues relating to water supplies and water qualiy regulations across the Midwest, giving specific attention to conflicts over interstate river and groundwater basins and "Water of the United States" regulatory rule recently promulgated by the EPA and the Corp of Engineers pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act.

Diabetes Education & Awareness
Legislators were invited to share their stories on how their states look to improve the health within their legislature, communities and beyond. Representative Kathy Hawken spoke about her experience on Diabetes Action Plan legislation, and WIG looked to hone in on issue areas for future diabetes programming.

HPV - A Continuing Issue
Legislators were given the opportunity to watch the documentary Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic, a film narrated by Vanessa WIlliams that deconstructs The Human Papilloma Virus. HPV is a critical epidemic facing about 80 percent of all people under the age of 50. The film also discusses cervical cancer, which is almost exclusively caused by HPV and is the 2nd leading cancer in women.

  • To watch the film or learn more about HPV, click here.

Breakfast Bill Share
Legislators engaged in a dialogue about what bills they are working, or had worked on this past session.

  • Representative Kim Norton (MN) shared her experience working on an education bill that provides foreign language credit to ESL students. This bill allows ESL students to be exempt from the mandatory foreign language course credit; therefore, allowing these students to focus their studies on English. It also provides the opportunity for students to receive certificates for mastery of a foreign language which can be applied to further work experience and technical jobs. To learn more about this bill, click here.
  • Representative Sarah Roberts (MI) described her bipartisan legislation that requires insurance companies to cover the cost of wigs for children under the age of 19 who have lost their hair as a result of a medical condition. The language of this bill refers to wigs as cranial hair prosthesis. To read the bill, click here. She also described her concurrent resolution that called for the approval of President Obama’s plan to spend $35 million dollars to help process untested rape kits. This resolution can be read here.
  • Representative Phyllis Kahn (MN) spoke about a few of her bills, some that she is currently working on, and others from past sessions. The first bill she described fully funds a council devoted to the maintenance of Minnesota’s land, water, and clean air, learn more here. The second is a bill that legalizes the industrial production of hemp, authorizing research and production of the federally legal plant. To read this bill, click here. The third bill supports the Women’s Security Act which prevents any discrimination of women as a result of pregnancy or family. To learn more about this bill, click here.
  • State Senator Nan Orrock (GA) described that in Georgia undocumented students have limited access to public universities; they are required to pay out-of-state tuition. She introduced a bill that allows these students to receive in-state tuition for Georgia public universities. Her education bill can be found here. She also shared another one of her bills that clarifies the effectiveness of physician’s orders for life-sustaining treatment forms, and the capability of these forms to travel with the patient by state. This bill can be found here.
  • Representative Barbara Bollier (KA) shared her bill that requires the reimbursement of breast milk through Medicaid. The bill recognizes breast milk as medicine. To read more about this legislation, click here.
  • Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (IL) described her bill calling for the convention to amend the United States Constitution. The convention would discuss the Supreme Court Decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which permits unlimited amounts of unregulated money into federal campaigns. To read this bill, click here.
  • Representative Stephanie Clayton (KA) explained her transparency bill which provides live audio broadcasts of all legislative committee meetings. To access this bill, click here. She also described her bill that allows victims of revenge porn civil cause of action, and the ability to criminally sue a person who has shared pornographic material by way of a privacy violation. This bill can be found here.
  • Representative Mary Mascher (IA) spoke about her bill that allows survivors of domestic violence to register to vote secretly, so that they would not be at risk of being found by their former abusers. To read this bill, click here. She also explained her legislation granting provisions in Iowa state law to allow in-state tuition to undocumented students. To read this legislation, click here.
  • Representative Naomi Muscha (ND) explained her bill that would make refusal of reasonable accommodations to a pregnant individual a discriminatory practice. This bill can be read here.

For Legislator or Registration information, please contact:
Johnathan Lozier, Manager Legislative Outreach
202.333.0825 ext. 214

For Sponsor information, please contact:
Sumeira Kashim, Associate Director, Development
202.333.0825 ext. 210

For Policy information, please contact:
Brenna Kehew Sculley, Associate Director, Policy & Programs
202.333.0825 ext. 211