Ohio Legislative Update
There continues to be a lot of activity at the state and federal level in response to COVID-19 and other major healthcare issues, and OSMA was involved in a variety of advocacy initiatives last week. Below is an overview of our efforts and new policy information in Ohio.
As always, if you have questions about our advocacy efforts or want to learn more about how to get involved, contact our government affairs department.
Last week, elected officials at the Statehouse continued legislative activity with a series of hearings and floor sessions and made several key decisions on some of OSMA’s priority advocacy items. As the members of the Legislature are approaching their planned summer recess, leadership in both chambers are pushing for progress and completion on many pending proposals.
Here is a rundown of the main issues that were debated last week in Ohio:
OSMA is advocating for two bills at the Statehouse concerning physician liability as it relates to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis: one in the House (HB 606) and one in the Senate (SB 308). This issue has been of serious concern to many of our members during the temporary postponement of a broad swath of elective medical procedures pursuant to an emergency order issued by the Department of Health during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, and also as many health care practices have recently begun to resume certain care under the Department and Governor’s direction.
Both of these bills were considered in committee hearings this week, and OSMA is now participating in interested party meetings to track the proposals and any potential changes. We hope to see additional protections for physicians and other health care professionals passed out of the Legislature very soon, as it seems legislators are making an effort to move this legislation through the process quickly.
In response to COVID-19, many requirements and restrictions on telehealth have been relaxed by regulatory bodies at both the federal and state levels. In Ohio, many physicians have taken the opportunity to safely provide care via telehealth during this period. As a longtime advocate for increased access to telehealth, OSMA is currently working with members of the Legislature on pursuing legislation that would keep those requirements relaxed, even after the pandemic is behind us.
We anticipate that legislation may be introduced within the next week or two in the Ohio House. Stay tuned for updates moving forward.
OSMA has been working on the issue of “surprise” out-of-network medical billing for several years with a coalition of health care groups and other interested parties. Initially, we had serious concerns about a proposal in the Ohio House (HB 388) – mainly due to its establishment of a statutory rate cap for physician reimbursements and for its potential to tip the balance too far in favor of insurers in the contracting process.
Fortunately, OSMA raised the voices of the physician community to advocate for changes, and this week, a new version of the bill was crafted with compromise language included to help alleviate physician concerns. This was accepted and it went to the House floor, where it passed with a favorable vote. The Senate will now consider the bill.
APRN Independent Practice
OSMA has advocated for team-based care with the physician at the head of the care team for years in response to a variety of independent practice proposals for APRNs. Amid the pandemic, yet another approach to this briefly surfaced. This new version of House Bill 177 sought to allow independent practice for both APRNs and physician assistants for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency; however, after some objections expressed by the physician and hospital community, this was pulled from committee and is no longer being considered.
OSMA will continue to work on the prior version of the bill, which would generally terminate the current standard care arrangement through which APRNs practice under the supervision of physicians, allowing them to practice completely independently. We continue to stress concerns about such a treatment model, including those related to patient safety.
SB 97, an OSMA-backed bill which would give patients valuable tools with which to request pricing information for scheduled hospital procedures 7 days in advance, has passed out of the Senate and is now in the House Health Committee.
OSMA testified in support of this bill this week, telling elected officials on the committee that this legislation would help Ohioans make more informed decisions regarding their care and allow them to better anticipate costs associated with the care they receive. We will monitor its progress in the House in the coming weeks.