This week, the House of Medicine stood up for many important health care bills. We need to keep this momentum going for surprise balance billing and prevention of pharmacist scope of practice expansion. See below for the many ways to easily get involved to make your voice heard!
The Medical Society of Virginia is excited to announce its new podcast, JoyMed! Listen to the first episode, We Are Pro-Medicine, where MSV President, Dr. Clifford L. Deal III, and the MSV Government Affairs and Policy team discuss the importance of physician advocacy.
COMING SOON to Apple and Google Podcasts
After significant advocacy and outreach efforts from MSV members, HB 1506 (Sickles) was amended to more closely reflect the recommendations of the Joint Health Care Commission. Under the bill, the discussion of pharmacists’ scope of practice will now go to a workgroup made up of members from the Board of Pharmacy, Board of Medicine, MSV, the Virginia Pharmacists Association, and the Department of Health. This is a tremendous example of how MSV members sharing the voice of medicine in the General Assembly impacts health care decisions for the Commonwealth.
MSV continues to oppose SB 1026 (Dunnavant). Dr. Dunnavant’s Senate version still allows pharmacists to use CLIA-waived tests to diagnose and administer prescription medications for the flu, strep, and other conditions. This will jeopardize the health of Virginia's patients by removing physicians from critical and necessary patient evaluation and diagnosis. This bill passed out of the Senate Education and Health Subcommittee yesterday morning, and will now proceed to the floor for consideration by all members of the Senate.
Our work on this issue is not over. Every Senator in the General Assembly will now have the chance to pass a vote on the bill.
Every Senator in the General Assembly will now have the chance to pass a vote on the bill.
HB 1251 (Torian) and SB 172 (Favola) would end surprise billing for patients and ensure adequate reimbursement to protect the ER safety net. The legislation would add a fourth independent option to the list of the required rates a health plan must pay a physician for delivering emergency care. Currently plans are required to pay either their in-network rate, usual and customary, or Medicare. SB 172 (Favola) will be heard by the Senate, Commerce and Labor full committee on Sunday.
HB 1251 (Torian) was heard in the appropriations committee on Friday, February 7, 2020.
HB 1449 (Rasoul) and SB 982 (Hashmi) attempt to prevent MOC from limiting a physician's ability to practice. The MSV has policy which opposes continuing board certification - commonly referred to as Maintenance of Certification (MOC) - as a requirement for licensure, credentialing, recredentialing, privileging, reimbursement, network participation, employment, or insurance panel participation. MSV is opposed to these bills because of their efforts to legislate physician education – which does not align with MSV policy. As introduced, these bills codify many instances in which MOC could be used to regulate a physician’s ability to practice. MSV also has concerns that the bill would negatively impact Virginia’s trauma centers and lose their accredited status. Del. Rasoul’s bill was laid on the table in Committee and Sen. Hashmi struck her bill.
MSV is committed to addressing current challenges of MOC and will continue to lead national efforts for reform. Later this year, MSV will convene a taskforce on MOC to review policy and determine steps to address concerns before the 2021 GA session.
HB 1094 (Miyares) died in Committee on Thursday. The bill would have struck physician-owned ASCs from COPN. SB 503 (Petersen) would have created an expedited process for limited physician services, but unfortunately failed by a vote of 9 to 6 in the Senate Education and Health Committee. SB 330 (Deeds), a bill supported by the Governor, also failed. The bill would have exempted psychiatric and substance abuse facilities from COPN.
HB 1090 (Hope) passed out of full committee and will now move to the House floor. The bill would align the Board of Health's Regulations for the Immunization of School Children to be consistent with the Immunization Schedule developed and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Virginia Mental Health Access Program (VMAP)
VMAP is a statewide program designed to increase access for children to mental health care, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and care navigators. VMAP currently relies on a combination of private, state, and federal funding but requires additional funding for the program to expand statewide. MSV is supporting Governor Northam's budget to increase VMAP’s funding by $4.3 million to serve all regions of the Commonwealth. The MSV Foundation was named the contract administrator for VMAP by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).
A budget amendment is being carried by Sen. Dunnavant, MD and Del. Betsy Carr to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for physicians. The amendment increases Medicaid rates to 88% of Medicare rates - the same as current Virginia hospital rates. The amendment also includes an annual inflation increase for physician reimbursements.
The existing Virginia Physician Loan Repayment Program has not been funded in over 10 years. By easing the burden of student loan debt, physicians are able to practice in underserved areas. MSV is supporting Del. Hurst's budget amendment for $4 million to fund 20 positions for the Physician Loan Repayment Program. Each physician would receive a maximum of $200,000 over four years. Physicians will be required to have a minimum commitment of 2 years and the funds would be tax-exempt.