Legislative Update – January 25, 2019

Key Issues Action Needed

Two top priority issues are now before the legislature that need your support. See this week’s updates and how you can help.

Surprise/Balance Billing

MSV continues to work with the entire physician community to advocate for patient-friendly solutions that secure reasonable payment for physicians.

HB 1714 (Ware) would address emergency balance billing; the bill would protect patients from balance billing and ensure physicians are paid directly. In addition, the bill would pay providers a fair and reasonable amount. HB 1714 is supported by the entire physician community.

The General Assembly’s action on emergency balance billing will make a significant impact on patients and physicians; it is critical that physicians act to prevent the insurance industry from gaining further control over patient care.

If you have a relationship with a member of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, please reach out to our GA team.

Stay tuned for email legislative alerts that will have specific action steps to take to support these bills.

Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

Del. Scott Garrett, MD and Sen. Emmett Hanger submitted budget amendments (303 #23h and 303 #4s) that would increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for physicians currently reimbursed below 75% of Medicare. The budget amendments will first be considered by the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees.  At this critical point, these committee members, as well as all members of the General Assembly, must hear from you to include the amendments in the final budget proposal.  This is the one of the most significant pieces of legislation to impact rates for physicians and access to care for Virginia patients seen by the General Assembly. This is a critical and urgent opportunity.

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Tobacco and Nicotine Use

SB1727 (Norment) Increases the minimum age for persons prohibited from purchasing or possessing tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products, and the minimum age for persons such products can be sold to, from 18 years of age to 21 years of age. This bill is currently in the Senate and MSV supports this bill.

Prior Authorization and Step Therapy

MSV supports SB 1607 (Dunnavant), a bill that would reform and streamline prior authorization for medications. The bill would also ensure payment for pre-approved surgeries and invasive procedures; during an approved procedure, if a physician provided appropriate additional medical care they would be reimbursed without requiring an additional authorization. This bill has been sent to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee and is expected to be heard next week.

HB 2126 (Davis) is a step therapy reform bill that would improve clinical criteria and create expedient exemptions to step therapy processes for patients already on an effective treatment or with an urgent need. This bill is expected to be heard next week in a subcommittee of House Commerce and Labor.

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Physician Assistants

HB 1952 (Campbell) is expected to be heard on the House floor next week. SB 1209 (Peake) has passed the Senate and has moved to the House. Both bills would make administrative updates to Physician Assistant practice, bringing Virginia’s code in line with current Board of Medicine regulations.  MSV has been working closely with our Physician Assistant members as well as the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants to support this effort.

House of Medicine Wins

SB1439 (McClellan) This bill has passed requiring the completed medical certification portion of a death certificate to be filed electronically with the State Registrar of Vital Records through the dramatically improved Electronic Death Registration System. The new EDRS system is free, allows physicians to assign a delegate, and easily submit an electronic death certificate in under 10 minutes. The Department of Health and MSV will be working together to educate physicians and physician assistants to use the Electronic Death Registration System by January 2020.

HB2731 (Edmunds) This Lyme Disease notice bill has been favorably amended to remove the mandate that physicians provide a notice to patients tested for Lyme Disease. Outside of the legislature, progress has been made by Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of Medicine to significantly improve the accuracy of Lyme Disease testing. Richard T. Marconi, Ph.D is a professor in the VCU School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology who has developed a more accurate test for the presence of Lyme Disease in humans.