The House version (which we support) was voted out of Rules and is on the House Debate Calendar. I expect this bill to be passed by the House and sent to the Senate prior to spring break. Once it gets over to the Senate, they will start to debate. The House version is very similar to the Senate version that we like.
This week, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the “Health Care Safety Net and Enhancement Act” (S. 527) as a companion to the House bill (H.R. 548) sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA). The legislation addresses the growing crisis in access to emergency care by providing emergency and on-call physicians who perform EMTALA-related services with temporary protections under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Senator Blunt had previously introduced similar legislation. For his support of emergency medicine, ACEP supported Senator Blunt in his re-election bid last year. Representatives from MOCEP and ACEP will be discussing this legislation when they visit members of the House and Senate at LAC later this month.
House Bill 961, was heard in the House Health and Mental Health committee. This bill delays a person from qualifying for Medicaid for 6 months after they become a resident. This would of course lead to higher uninsured, which then would lead to more no pay ED visits. Our lobbyist testified against this bill.
SB 383 was discussed in the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee’s hearing. Currently any defendant responsible for 51% of a claim would be responsible for the entire sum if the co-defendent couldn’t pay. This bill would change that to make the damages much more proportional to the degree that the defendant is at fault.
The Senate gave first round approval to SB 74. This is Dr. Schaaf’s version of the PDMP. MOCEP along with other medical societies does not believe that this is a good bill. It likely would not allow us access to any useful information in real time in the emergency department. It is also unclear that it could be implemented successfully. It would also restrict cities and counties from developing their own programs. SB 314 (HB 90) is on the calendar to be debated. This is the version of the PDMP that we endorse. Please contact your Senators to make sure the good version gets through.
Last year the legislature passed a bill that stated the Board of Healing Arts could not condition a physicians licensure renewal on their board certification maintenance standing. This year, Representative Doc Frederick introduced House bill 529 that goes one step further. It precludes a hospital and other employers from making as a condition of such employment or privileges a physicians maintenance of board certification. This received strong pushback and now the bill will simply state that no state law can require a hospital to require maintenance of board certification to remain in good standing with the hospital or other employer. We believe this leaves the law essentially where it is today, allowing hospitals and employers to set their own requirements. This bill was heard last week.
MOCEP’s lobbyist testified in opposition to two helmet bills. The first was diminishing the violation to a secondary offense, similar to the seat belt law. The House General Laws Committee will vote this version out on Tuesday. Another bill simply repeals the requirement to wear a helmet. This one is not yet scheduled for a vote.
In his budget, the Governor has included a cut to Medicaid rates. There may be a 3% cut to providers but the good news is that it appears this won’t apply to emergency departments. All this will have to continued to be watched as the legislature reviews his budget proposal.
SB 200 establishes a better standard for the admissibility of expert testimony than our state courts presently apply. It is now on the floor calendar. Also Wednesday morning in that same committee, MSMA offered testimony in favor of HB 95, which has already crossed the rotunda. This is the collateral source bill that allows plaintiffs to offer evidence of the actual cost of healthcare rather than its value when computing civil damages.