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February 24, 2017 Legislative Update

February 24, 2017

Christopher L. Nuland, JD

The calendar may only say February, but legislators and lobbyists made this past week the most eventful and challenging “Committee Week” in recent years.

Officially, the House and Senate Committees were busy.  On Tuesday, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee advanced bills to eliminate most retroactive denials (SB 102) and to make HMOs liable for medical malpractice when they make medical decisions (SB262).  At the exact same time, the Senate Health Policy Committee passed bills to enable Direct Primary Care (SB 240), prohibit mid-year formulary changes for stable patients (SB 182) and allow the use of a single opiate in Level I Office Surgeries if reversal agents are on hand (SB 7012).

Not to be outdone, the House committees tackled many of these same issues the next day.  The House Health Innovation Committee passed HB 95 (regarding the mid-year formulary changes) and moved the Office Surgery legislation to the full Health Services Committee.  The Health Quality Committee also passed legislation that would allow ARNPs to become directors of health care clinics.

Despite all of this public action, Scope of Practice legislation took center stage late in the week, as bills were filed to allow optometrists to perform surgery (SB 1168) and allow pharmacists to diagnose conditions and initiate treatment (SB 1180).  We will be fighting these Scope of Practice expansions, as well as the previously filed ARNP-Independent Practice Bill.