Legislative Update 6-22-20: Health Care Provider Stabilization

by Devon Green
Vice President of Government Relations
It feels unnatural to be doing a legislative update at the end of June, but bills continue to pass thanks to the magic of Zoom and YouTube. Legislators are working diligently, with an eye towards recessing for a July break at the end of this week.  
In further lessening of COVID-19 related restrictions, Governor Scott announced new hospital visitation policies, which can be found here. The policy generally allows at least one visitor per patient. Hospitals can be more restrictive as required by changing circumstances, but should continue to allow one support person for those patients that are cognitively impaired or would otherwise have difficulty accessing health care on their own.  

Last week

Health Care Provider Stabilization Program: The House passed a bill that would authorize $250 million in health care provider stabilization grants from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The Agency of Human Services would administer this grant program though a needs-based application process. The Senate reduced the House-proposed $250 million to $165 million for health care provider stabilization, and will continue their discussion this week.  
Physician Assistant Licensure: Legislation that changes physician assistant licensure requirements from supervision to a practice agreement has passed the Senate. The bill will now go to the governor’s desk. The changes are set to go into effect on July 1, 2020. At this time, the Board of Medical Practice has informed VAHHS that new licenses should be submitted consistent with the statute, but existing documentation will remain valid until the renewal.
Licensure of Physicians and Podiatrists: New requirements for hospital disciplinary reporting have passed the House and will go to the governor’s desk. For more information, please see the VAHHS bill review, here.
“Skinny” Budget: The Senate passed H.961, a bill that continues fiscal year 2020 level spending through September 30. The bill also includes several Coronavirus Relief Fund appropriations towards schools, including higher education.

This Week

Health Care Provider Stabilization Program: Senate Health and Welfare and Senate Appropriations will be working to pass a Health Care Provider Stabilization Program using Coronavirus Relief Funds. As of now, the amount the Senate is considering is $165 million, $85 million less than the proposal from the House.  
Extension of COVID-19 Regulatory Flexibilities: Senate Health and Welfare will be looking at a bill that extends certain regulatory flexibilities around reporting, licensure, and telehealth to the spring of 2021. This will give health care providers much-needed predictability because they will have these flexibilities regardless of whether the state of emergency is lifted. Go here for a list of extensions supported by VAHHS through the health care provider association coalition.