February 3, 2020

This week, the House of Medicine saw many critical health care bills move through the General Assembly. There are some bills that need your help more than ever to keep the momentum going: surprise balance billing and pharmacist scope of practice expansion.

Scope of Practice

PHARMACISTS

MSV continues to oppose HB 1506 (Sickles) and SB 1026 (Dunnavant).This morning in the Senate side, Sen. Dunnavant introduced amendments to her bill, SB 1026. The bill still has many problems because it still allows pharmacists to diagnose, prescribe, and dispense: vaccines, TB testing, and CLIA-waived tests. The bill was also amended so that it would not be enacted until regulations were applied and before July 2021. This means there would be time to review the regulations during 2021 GA session.

After discussions with the House of Medicine, Del. Sickles expressed an interest in amending his bill, HB 1506; the pharmacist association was not open to these suggestions. The bill is being heard this Tuesday, February 4.

IF YOU ARE AVAILABLE, PLEASE COME TO THE COMMITTEE HEARING.

SEND YOUR MESSAGE NOW OPPOSING THESE BILLS. They cannot be killed without your help.

Only constituents of committee members will be able to send a message using the button link below.

Oppose HB 1506 & SB 1026

NATUROPATHS

SB 858 (Petersen) would require the Board of Medicine to license naturopaths and allow them an expansive scope of practice. The Senate committee decided to refer the bill to Department of Health Professions (DHP) for a workforce review study. The study would evaluate whether naturopaths meet seven criteria for potential licensure.

The companion house bill HB 1040 (Rasoul) was heard in the House HWI committee on Thursday, and resulted in a vote to carry the legislation over until 2021 after the conclusion of the study by the Department of Health Professions requested in the Senate version of the bill.

This means the bill is dead on the Senate and House sides for this year. This is a big win for this year! Thank you to everyone who sent emails, made phone calls, and talked to legislators about this bill.

This fight is not over. We will need to work hard over the summer on the study or we will be looking at fighting licensure next year.

Surprise Balance Billing

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) passed out of the Senate, Commerce, and Labor subcommittee last week and is advancing to the Senate, Commerce and Labor full committee.

HB 1251 (Torian) was heard in subcommittee last night and was referred, along with the health plans bill, HB 901 (Sickles), to appropriations committee.

Please share a message to the representatives sitting on these committees to support these two pieces of legislation.

Only constituents of committee members will be able to send a message using the button link below.

Support HB 1251 & SB 172

Maintenance of Certification 

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 drafted, 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. As drafted, the bill may cause Virginia’s trauma centers to lose their accredited status.

Sen. Hashmi struck her bill on MOC this week from consideration. The House subcommittee did not hear HB 1449 (Rasoul). MSV continues to oppose as there has not been an opportunity to amend.

MSV is committed to addressing current challenges of MOC and will continue to lead national efforts for reform.

Public Health

VACCINES

HB 1090 (Hope) was sent to House appropriations subcommittee this week for financial feasibility evaluation. 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.

Mental Health

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).

Medicaid Rates

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.

Physician Loan Repayment

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.


House of Medicine Wins

Converted HB 42 (Samirah), formally a provider mandate bill, into an educational bill.

HB 188 (Levine), a bill that would have required physicians to provide insurance cost estimates, was carried over for the year.

SB 982 (Hashmi), an MOC bill that would have jeopardized Virginia’s Trauma Center accreditation, was struck by the patron.

HB 1332 (Kilgore), was a telehealth bill that we worked to amend to make the definitions of services more limited and in-line with federal standards.

HB 127 (Miyares), a bill that would have allowed bystanders new liability, was amended to protect health care providers.