By Scot Chadwick
As I’ve said many times in the past, June is a very busy month at the state capitol. And although most of the attention is focused on the annual state budget negotiations (not going well, but that’s another story), many other legislative initiatives also see action, as our solons try to get as much done as possible before leaving town for their hoped-for summer recess.
Three health care-related bills advanced this week, all in the Senate, and at least one of them looks like it may reach the governor’s desk soon. On June 9, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approved HB 182, legislation that would allow pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to minors age nine and older.
Because the committee did not change the House-passed bill, similar action by the full Senate would put the bill on Gov. Wolf’s desk. Under the measure, pharmacists would have to obtain parental consent beforehand, and notify the child’s primary care provider within 48 hours after administration of either injectable or needle-free influenza vaccine. PAMED had opposed earlier bills that were far broader in scope, but does not object to HB 182 in its current form.
Speaking of the full Senate, on June 9 the chamber unanimously passed SB 396, which would reauthorize Pennsylvania’s Health Care Cost Containment Council (HC4) for another four years. HC4 is one of a number of legislatively created entities that must be reviewed and extended periodically to prevent it from going out of existence.
PAMED strongly supports the agency, which generates valuable data on the state’s health care system. HC4’s most recent effort was a May 21 report on the financial health of Pennsylvania’s acute care hospitals. You can read the report here. SB 396 now moves to the House, where we hope for quick approval.
The third bill, also passed unanimously by the Senate on June 9, is SB 538, which would impose new reporting requirements on state licensees (everybody from crane operators to landscape architects to physicians and other health care professionals) who run afoul of the criminal law or another state’s licensing body.
Specifically, anyone who holds a license, certificate or registration issued by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs shall, as a condition of licensure, certification or registration, report to their licensing board or commission within 30 days (1) any disciplinary action by a licensing agency of another jurisdiction; and (2) any arrest, indictment or conviction of the licensee, certificate holder or registrant.
Depending on the nature of the action reported, the licensing boards and commissions would be authorized to issue temporary suspensions where warranted. In the case of a legal commitment to an institution due to mental incompetency or a felony conviction under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (or its equivalent in another state), the suspension would be automatic. As with the HC4 bill, SB 538 now will go to the House for its consideration.
The month is still young, and I expect a lot more health care-related legislative activity, so check back often. We promise to keep you posted on all the latest developments.