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 opposition of naturopath scope of practice expansion.

MSV is hard at work tracking the bills that have the ability to impact medicine and patient care in Virginia. We are already tracking over 400 bills.

Scope of Practice

PHARMACISTS

Sen. Dunnavant, MD has introduced SB 1026 which would allow pharmacists to diagnose, prescribe, and dispense: epinephrine; prescription tobacco cessation products; TB tests; tests and medications for flu, strep, urinary tract infections, and H. Pylori; contraceptives; PrEP for HIV, and more.

Diagnoses made without a physical exam or medical history can be potentially harmful to a patient. SEND YOUR MESSAGE NOW. Sen. Dunnavant needs to hear from physicians directly. This bill cannot be killed without your help.

Send a Message Opposing SB 1026

NATUROPATHS

HB 1040 (Rasoul) would require the Board of Medicine to license naturopaths. Since introduction, it has been amended to remove the ability to perform minor surgical procedures. However, the bill still includes the ability to prescribe numerous substances, perform physical exams and lab tests and use of the term ‘naturopathic doctor.’ We continue to oppose this bill. HB 1040 made it out of House, Welfare, and Institutions (HWI) subcommittee with a 4-2 vote. The bill now moves to HWI’s full committee to be heard. The House of Medicine needs physicians to voice their concerns over this bill.

Only constituents of committee members will be able to send a message using the button link below. To send a direct message to committee members, see this committee listing.

Oppose HB 1040

SB 858 (Petersen) was heard Friday morning and the 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. If all seven criteria are met, the bill would likely be brought back to next year’s General Assembly session.

This week, the House and Senate subcommittee both had considerably more naturopath supporters than physicians. Want to join us in Richmond? Let us know!

Suprise 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) was heard Thursday in Senate, Commerce, and Labor subcommittee. The bill successfully made it out of subcommittee and is advancing to the Senate, Commerce, and Labor committee. It is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the full committee on January 27. This is an important step for this bill, but we still need your support to move it through.

HB 1251 (Torian) was scheduled to be heard in subcommittee but was passed on along with the other surprise balance billing bills to be heard later this week.

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

Send a Message Supporting HB 1251 & SB 172

Public Health

VACCINES

HB 1090 (Hope) passed out of subcommittee this week. 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.

Send a Message to Support HB 1090

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.

Maintenance of Certification (MOC)

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.

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


House of Medicine Wins

HB 1172 (Poindexter) was removed from any further consideration after working closely with the patron. This bill would have created a burdensome and costly requirement for physicians to put their Electronic Health Record system files in a format suitable for use by the intended recipient’s EHR system. While MSV supports interoperability of EHRs, the burden should be on the vendors, not physician practices.

HB 626 (LaRock) was tabled by the subcommittee. While well intended, the bill would have set a dangerous precedent codifying the practice of medicine. MSV shared how physicians are already achieving this goal in practice and as part of the standard of care.

SB 767 (Barker) failed to pass out of the Senate Commerce and Labor subcommittee on health insurance by a 2-1 vote. This legislation would have allowed health plans exclusive control over their prices to out-of-network providers.