Legislative Update 2-3-20

Things keep moving at a brisk pace at the State House. In terms of the big broad initiatives, the Senate passed the minimum wage bill with a vote of 23-6. The bill, which would raise the minimum wage to $12.55 per hour by 2022, goes to the governor’s desk and a possible veto. Speaking of which, the governor vetoed the paid family leave bill on Friday, citing the payroll tax for a mandatory program. Governor Scott continues to pursue a voluntary paid family leave program.
Now, on to our health care!

Last Week

Department of Mental Health’s 10-Year Plan: The Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health presented a high-level overview of a 10-year plan to the House Health Care Committee. The plan used the quadruple aim as a framework that included:

  • improving the health of the population by eliminating stigma and promoting health and wellness;
  • reducing costs of care by focusing on social contributors to health, such as affordable housing and transportation;
  • improving the health care provider experience through workforce development and pay parity; and
  • improving the client experience by expanding access to community-based care and ensuring services are person-led

There are a few broad initiatives that will intersect with hospital work—such as expanding trauma-informed practices and working with medical staff to enhance anti-stigma training. The plan also looks to address emergency department visits by working to assess gaps in existing resources and instituting community supports for after-hours to divert volumes from emergency departments when they can be supported in the community. 

Thank you to all VAHHS members who participated in this process. Your input is invaluable. 

Replacement of the Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence: The Administration testified in the House Health Care Committee on one option for replacing the residence. This plan would demolish the current Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center and build a new proposed state-run secure residential facility on the site. Estimated costs are $15 million to build. The Department of Mental Health plans to provide the House Health Care Committee a plan of stakeholder engagement next week.

Physician Assistant Licensure: VAHHS testified in Senate Health and Welfare on the PA licensure bill. The latest version continues to eliminate the supervision requirement and its liability for physicians and will replace that requirement with a practice agreement with one physician per facility. The practice agreement will need to be filed with the Board of Medical Practice for record-retention purposes, but the Board must only file the agreement—it cannot review it or require changes to the document. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will continue to work on the bill next week.

This Week

Telehealth: On Wednesday, January 5th at 9:00 a.m., House Health Care will be hearing testimony from VAHHS and others on H.723, a telehealth bill that expands reimbursement for store-and-forward telemedicine from dermatology and ophthalmology to all health care services.    

Stem Cell Therapies Not Approved by the FDA: Senate Health and Welfare will hear testimony on S.252, a bill that requires patient notification and specific informed consent for stem cell therapies not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.