February Legislative Update

February 11, 2020

PA-ACP has continued to work with legislative leadership, Committee Chairs and staff on dozens of bills which would impact Pennsylvania’s internists, practices and their patients this session.  The General Assembly is in recess for several weeks of hearings on the state budget with state agencies, and will return to session on March 16, but outreach to legislators both in Harrisburg and the districts is key to success during the balance of 2020.

The Chapter will be actively involved with discussions and deliberations on the state budget, particularly in areas relating to health care funding and medical assistance, notably regarding funding for MA funding for academic medical centers.

CRNPs Independent Practice - PA-ACP has maintained its opposition to having CRNP’s practice without collaborative agreements with physicians for a decade.  Recently, Professional Licensure Committee Chair Rep. Dave Hickernell has proposed that we sit down with the nurses, and negotiate language for a bill that creates a pilot project, allowing CRNPs in federally designated underserved HSAs to operate without collaborative agreements for six years, followed by a study of the impacts on access and quality of care.  No other legislation on the subject would be permitted during the course of this pilot project.

PA-ACP will be a key part of those negotiations if the proposal moves forward, and while willing to consider the concept, continue to support the patient centered medical home. 

Prior Authorization - PA-ACP has been actively involved with negotiations over language in two bills to benefit patients and reduce administrative burdens for its members.  HB 1194,with 56 bipartisan cosponsors, and SB 920, with nine cosponsors, would reform PA in the state.  The College is working with other physician organizations and patient advocacy groups to move these bills this spring.  Add your voice to the College’s by contacting your State Senator and Representative to support these bills.

Change of Venue - The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released its report on the impacts of changes in venue laws from 2002- 2019.  The report did not support changing current rules. PA-ACP is working with the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Republican Policy Committee to further consider the impacts of any such changes.  A return to old rules would have consequences on the delivery of health care, increased liability premiums and impacts on the availability of health care services for people who need them, particularly in rural communities.

Telemedicine – PA-ACP testified on the needs and requirements for telemedicine in both 2018 and 2019, and worked with the Senate on SB 857 which is in the Senate for final consideration.  Telemedicine would allow care providers to deliver services digitally through the use of apps, Skype, FaceTime and other advanced technologies. The bill will hopefully get final consideration in March.

Surprise Balance Billing - PA-ACP testified this spring and worked with House Insurance Committee chair Rep. Tina Pickett (R, Sullivan) to protect the interests of internists in developing surprise balance billing legislation.  HB 1862 is ready for a vote by the full House.  While we have issues with specific provisions in the bill, we support the patient protection segments of the legislation.

Drug Price Transparency - PA-ACP worked with the Senate and House Health and Insurance Committees on this legislation.  Several bills now on the House/Senate calendars would regulate pharmacists and pharmacy benefit managers regarding drug price transparency.  PA-ACP supports these bills.

Opioids - PA-ACP continues to support legislation that gives deemed MA eligibility to those seeking treatment for substance abuse issues, and has offered amendments to legislation (SB 675) to avoid additional costs and certifications for providers using medically assisted treatments like buprenorphine  and to keep MATs available for transitioning patients.

As the session continues, PA-ACP will stay on top of these and other issues that could impact your patients and practices.