February 2, 2017

White Coats on Call

On Monday morning, over 130 physicians representing pediatricians, psychiatrists, otolaryngologists, surgeons, eye physicians and surgeons, orthopaedists, Richmond Academy of Medicine and Lynchburg Academy of Medicine, among others came to Richmond for our second White Coats on Call lobby day.  After being welcomed to town by Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, M.D., the group made their way to the General Assembly to discuss COPN reform, opioid misuse, a PMP technology pilot program, and licensure parity.  During lunch, the group heard from Health Commissioner Marissa Levine, MD, MPH on the opioid crisis.  Dr. Levine held an open forum with the group, asking for their thoughts and input on how the Virginia Health Department and the physician community at large should tackle the epidemic.

Wednesday, the MSV Board of Directors and the Medical Student Section came for their lobby day.  With the largest contingent they’ve ever had, the 60 members of the student section visited all 99 delegates and 40 senators to discuss HB 2317, a bill carried by Del. John O’Bannon, MD (R-Henrico) which would allow the Health Commissioner to implement harm reduction programs, including syringe service, in designated localities in crisis. 

Meanwhile, MSV leaders visited legislators in every corner of Virginia, including Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), Del. Todd Pillion (R-Abingdon), and Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle).  They provided insight on a number of issues, especially in regards to the opioid crisis and COPN reform. 

Thank you to the hundreds of physicians and students who came to lobby on behalf of their profession and patients this week!

Legislation Updates – Bills supported by MSV

  • HB 2337, carried by Del. John O’Bannon, MD (R-Henrico), which will implement a COPN permitting system in densely populated areas of Virginia, was reported from the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee by a vote of 11-10 and will now be heard in the House Appropriations committee.
  • SB 1566, which was Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, MD’s (R-Henrico) bill to reform COPN, was passed by indefinitely by the Senate Education and Health Committee.  The Committee decided that the issue would be studied by a joint workgroup made up of the Senate Education and Health and Finance Committee members.
  • HB 2053, Del. Steve Landes’ (R-Weyers Cave) bill to stipulate that direct primary care agreements do not constitute insurance,
  • HB 1813, carried by Del. Jay Leftwich, will require health insurers to honor assignment of benefits requests.  It passed the House Commerce and Labor by a vote of 14-7 and will come up for a full vote on the House floor next week.
  • HB 1767, carried by Del. Scott Garrett, MD (R-Lynchburg) and SB 1009, carried by Sen. Dunnavant, were both passed by their respective bodies in unanimous votes.  These bills will clarify code language to bring Virginia telemedicine law in line with federal regulations by identifying community services boards as locations where patients can receive telemedicine services.
  • HB 2167, carried by Del. Todd Pillion (R-Abingdon), and SB 1180, carried by Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon), were both passed by their respective bodies in a unanimous vote.  These bills direct the Boards of Medicine and Dentistry to develop opioid prescribing guidelines, rather than legislating them in the Code of Virginia. 

Averted Legislation

  • SB 1327, carried by Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson), proposed creating a new level of licensure for Doctors of Medical Science, an advanced degree for physician assistants.  The Senate Education and Health Committee voted to pass it by indefinitely and have the issue be studied after session ends.
  • HB 2042, carried by Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean), would have required providers to take CME specifically on suicide prevention.  The MSV lobby team was able to work with Del. Murphy, offering to provide information on our website regarding suicide prevention, which she was happy to accept.  The bill was laid on the table in subcommittee.
  • HB1424, carried by Del. Mark Cole (R-Spotsylvania), would have required prescriptions to include on the label the reason the medication was prescribed. It was laid on the table in subcommittee.