CMA Advocacy (Quarterly Update)
Hear a review of last year’s Ohio Legislative activity and a preview of the new session for 2019-2020. A brief wrap-up of selected physician related issues from last year and a look ahead to some unprecedented politics and new issues for the next two-year session of the General Assembly.
With a January 7th start date, the 133rd Session of the Ohio General Assembly is in its infancy. This Session will run for two years, ending in December of 2020. As of the date of this writing, there are no legislative proposals that have been introduced. The House and Senate have not yet fully organized – committees have not been formed, legislators have yet to be assigned to committees, and only yesterday did the term of Governor DeWine begin.
But before we discuss the new General Assembly, let’s review a few items from the end of last year and the wrap up of 132nd General Assembly:
Liability reforms were passed to benefit physicians. The legislature re-affirmed its commitment to a healthy liability insurance market place for physicians by making several minor improvements on items like reducing the "shotgun" naming of providers in a lawsuit by requiring new steps that include a mandatory "affidavit of merit" identifying rationale for all defendants that are named by the plaintiff and also clarifying that expressions of sympathy, empathy or apologies for an undesired health outcome cannot be used against a physician in a malpractice suit.
Scope of practice continued to be an area of focus for the legislature as various health professions seek to expand the services they provide. As a general approach, physician organizations are interested to see these practice expansions done inside a framework that is consistent with appropriate education and training levels. Changes were made to physicians’ assistants’ scope with the passage of HB 259. The Ohio State Medical Association and other physician groups worked closely with PA organizations and were supportive of this legislation. Working relationships and appropriate oversight were maintained and the result was a successful collaboration and bill passage. However, other situations exist where professions are not so willing to work collaboratively with physicians and in these situations, physician opposition contributes to bills not passing in this General Assembly. HB 326, psychologist’s prescriptive authority, and HB 191/SB 301 on expanding scope for CRNA, are examples of bills not passing.
Not all State issues are in the legislature, and new rules implemented by State Medical Board of Ohio is an example. After working for several years on successful legislation, and subsequent implementing rules, doctors now have in place a confidential addiction treatment alternative for physicians that is confidential and outside of the SMBO. These new rules are effective at the end of January of 2019.
2018 Election In addition to a new Governor and statewide officeholders being elected, all members of the Ohio House of Representatives were elected and half of the Ohio Senate. Included in these successful elections is Representative Beth Liston – the CMA’s president-elect and the first CMA member elected to state office. Quite an achievement for an actively practicing physician.
Looking ahead to 2019…
Politics: Ohio is in uncharted political water with the selection of House Speaker Larry Householder. Republicans hold a 61-38 advantage in the House. The Speakers race was contested, and Speaker Householder succeeded even though he did not get support from a majority of the members of his Republican Caucus. He was successful by combining the support of some Republicans with f many, but not all, Democrats. This type of political division has not occurred before. Speaker Householder has announced that it could be well in to February before Committee assignments are made and the House is organized to consider legislation.
Physician issues in the new General Assembly. While no bills have yet to be introduced, areas of interest will certainly include:
o State budget, Medicaid funding and maintaining of Ohio’s expansion
o Telemedicine Coverage
o Insurance Mandates
o Pharmacy Benefit Managers and issues related to corporate mergers of insurance and pharmacy companies
o Scope of Practice with Various Professions
o Criminalization of Physicians Around Issues of Women’s Reproductive Health
o Price Transparency Reporting Requirements
o Regulatory Issues with SMBO, Pharmacy Board and Medical Marijuana
Under the leadership of Co-Chairs, Drs. Stephanie Costa and Bill Cotton, the Columbus Medical Association invites any Central Ohio physician, or medical student, to join the CMA’s Public Policy Committee. This committee is where issues are discussed, and recommendations made about the CMA’s involvement in policy issues.
The next Public Policy meeting is February 21, at 6:00 p.m. at the CMA’s offices on Dublin Road. For more information, click here.