Bills on the Hill: Health-Related Bills Moving Through Legislature as 2019 Draws to a Close

Last Updated: Dec 5, 2019

Mike-Siget-2019By Michael D. I. Siget, JD, MPA, PAMED’s Legislative & Regulatory Counsel 

With only a few session days left before Pennsylvania lawmakers adjourn until next year, several health-related bills recently began moving through the legislature. In today’s Bills on the Hill, we will review several bills, including access to tobacco products, opioid treatment agreements, credentialing, photo ID badges, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), assault on health care practitioners, and telemedicine. 

Enacted Legislation

Sale of Vaping Products to Minors HB 97, introduced by Rep. Kathy Rapp, amends the Crimes Code to include “electronic nicotine delivery systems” (ENDS) in the sections that currently make it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors and for students to use such products on school grounds. ENDS products include e-cigarettes and vape pens. Prior to this law, tobacco products under this section only included traditional products such as cigarettes.

HB 97 was signed into law by Gov. Wolf as Act 93-3019. It takes effect on Jan. 26, 2020. 

Capitol-RotundaTobacco 21 LegislationSB 473, introduced by Sen. Mario Scavello, increases Pennsylvania’s minimum legal sales for tobacco products from 18 years of age to 21 years of age. The legislation was amended to provide an exception for members of the military and veterans who received an honorable discharge from any branch or unit of the active or reserve components of the armed forces of the United States. In that case, businesses may continue to sell tobacco products to individuals who are at least 18 years of age.

SB 473 was signed into law by Gov. Wolf as Act 111-2019. It takes effect on July 1, 2020.

Opioid Treatment AgreementsSB 572, introduced by Sen. Ryan Aument, will require patients who necessitate a prescribed opioid regime to enter into treatment agreements with a prescriber to ensure that patients understand the risks of addiction and the dangers of overdose associated with the medication as well as their role and responsibilities regarding their treatment. A provision of the treatment agreement will require patients to undergo baseline drug testing to establish a general assessment of the patient and periodic drug testing as deemed medically necessary by the prescriber in order to monitor adherence to existing patient treatment plans. Violations of this act by a prescriber shall subject the prescriber to possible sanctions by the prescriber’s licensing board.  

While PAMED supports initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic, PAMED did not support the imposition of mandates on the prescriber-patient relationship. We do offer a Quick Consult fact sheet to help physicians comply with the requirements of the law here.

SB 572 was signed into law by Gov. Wolf as Act 112-2019. It took effect immediately.

Vetoed Legislation

HB 321, introduced by Rep. Kate Klunk, would have prohibited abortions that were being sought because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, subject to specific exceptions. 

Gov. Wolf vetoed this legislation on Nov. 21, 2019, citing that this legislation placed restrictions on women and medical professionals and interfered with women’s health care and decision-making between patients and their physicians. Gov. Wolf also cited that he was concerned that enforcement of this legislation would upend the doctor-patient relationship and impede on patient confidentiality. 

Bills That Have Passed One Legislative Chamber

The following bills have passed either the House or the Senate. PAMED will continue to monitor these bills and provide updates to its members as they occur. 

  • PA Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Screening Act (HB 419) – This bill would provide routine breast cancer and cervical cancer screening services for low-income underinsured and uninsured individuals between the ages of 40 and 64 for breast cancer screening services and 21 to 64 years of age for cervical cancer screening services.
  • Credentialing (HB 533) – This bill would standardize the credentialing process in Pennsylvania for health care practitioners and provide timeframes for when credentialing decisions must be rendered. This bill is former HB 125 from the 2017-2018 legislative session.
  • Detoxification and addiction treatment registry (HB 596) – This bill would create an internet-based detoxification and addiction treatment bed registry to collect, aggregate, and display information about available beds in licensed detoxification and rehabilitation facilities for the treatment of individuals in need of inpatient detoxification or addiction treatment.
  • PBM Pricing Transparency in Medicaid (HB 941) – This bill would require transparency in PBM pricing practices in Medicaid and address reimbursement rates for pharmacies.
  • Prohibition of Gag Clauses by PBMs (HB 943) – This bill would prohibit the use of gag clauses in PBM contracts with pharmacies. Gag clauses are clauses in contracts that prohibit pharmacies from telling customers that they could save money on a prescription by paying out-of-pocket instead of through their insurance. This bill would cover any entities that are not currently covered by recent federal legislation that was enacted banning these clauses.
  • Methadone Death and Incident Review Act (HB 1662) – This bill would add suboxone/buprenorphine related deaths and incidents to the Methadone Death and Incident Review Act (Act 148-2012).
  • Photo ID Badges in Health Care Facilities (HB 1880 & SB 842) – These bills would remove the requirement for last names to be displayed on health care employees’ identification badges.
  • Final Disposition of Fetal Remains (HB 1890) – This bill would establish requirements on health care facilities for the final disposition of the remains of an unborn child at the request of the parent of the unborn child.
  • Aggravated Assault on a Health Care Practitioner (SB 351) – This bill would add health care practitioners to a protected class of individuals in the event of an assault. Under this bill, assaults on health care practitioners, while in the performance of their duties where there is a bodily injury, would rise from a misdemeanor to a felony. This bill is former HB 646 from the 2017-2018 legislative session.
  • Telemedicine (SB 857) – This bill would establish guidelines outlining who may provide telemedicine services as well as providing clarity regarding insurance reimbursement of telemedicine services. This bill is former SB 780 from the 2017-2018 legislative session.    

PAMED’s Bill Tracker 

PAMED tracks hundreds of health care bills each legislative session. Use our Bill Trackers to stay in the know about what’s happening at the Capitol in Harrisburg.  

Check out the bills most likely to impact physicians and medicine in Pennsylvania here. And, review all of the health-related bills PAMED is monitoring here.

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