MSNJ Legislative & Regulatory Update – March 22, 2013

From Trenton: Assembly Action:
On Thursday, the Assembly passed a bill that requires physicians to complete survey as condition for biennial registration with Board of Medical Examiners and requires board to maintain and disseminate survey data as appropriate. S. 1336 aims to address workforce shortages and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

The Assembly on Thursday voted on S. 2082, the “Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act,” which provides immunity from civil and criminal liability and professional discipline for health care professionals who prescribe or dispense naloxone or any similarly acting drug approved for the treatment of an opioid overdose. It provides immunity from civil and criminal liability for other persons who administer such a drug in an emergency to an individual who the person believes in good faith is experiencing an opioid overdose. A health care professional prescribing or dispensing an opioid antidote to a patient would be required to ensure that the patient receives overdose information, which is specified in the bill, and could fulfill this requirement by maintaining a written agreement for the provision of such information with a community-based organization, substance abuse organization, or other organization which addresses medical or social issues related to drug addiction.  MSNJ and the AMA support this bill.

Senate Action:

The Senate passed mental health parity legislation on Monday. S. 1253, sponsored by Chairman Vitale, requires SHBP and SHEBP to cover treatment for alcoholism, other substance-use disorders, and non biologically-based mental illnesses under same terms and conditions as for other diseases or illnesses. MSNJ supports this bill. The Assembly has not yet considered the bill.

Also on Monday, the Senate passed A. 3080, sponsored by Chairman Schaer, which requires health benefits coverage for refills of prescription eye drops under certain conditions. MSNJ supports this bill which now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Gubernatorial Action:

This week, Governor Christie signed a scope of practice bill that MSNJ worked on intimately.  S. 555 removes from a genetic counselor’s scope of practice interpreting such laboratory tests and other diagnostic studies and clarifies that genetic counseling includes identifying, coordinating, and explaining the clinical implications of genetic laboratory tests and other diagnostic studies and their results.  The bill also adds to the scope of practice integrating genetic laboratory test results and other diagnostic studies with personal and family medical history to assess and communicate risk factors for genetic or medical conditions and diseases.  Current law provides that the provisions of the “Genetic Counselor’s Licensing Act,” shall not apply to a person licensed by the State to practice medicine and surgery when acting within the scope of the person’s profession and doing work of a nature consistent with the person’s training, so long as the person does not hold himself out to the public as a genetic counselor.  The bill provides that the act shall not apply to a person licensed by the State to practice medicine and surgery, so long as the person does not hold himself out to the public as a licensed genetic counselor.

New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

The Legislature has begun its budget hearings, taking testimony from members of the public. In the Assembly hearing on health issues, over 30 people testified with concerns on funding for hospitals, mental health programs and other items.  MSNJ will remain engaged in the budget process, particularly Medicaid Expansion. Read MSNJ’s policy statement on Medicaid expansion.

From Washington: House Committees Continue their Work on SGR Repeal & Replacement
The AMA recently provided in-put to the House Committees on Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce proposal to repeal Medicare’s flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and replace it with physician-driven quality and payment methodologies. Key points included:

  • Phase I: Permanent repeal of the SGR and statutorily-defined rates based on the Medicare Economic Index (MEI) for three to five years
  • Phase II: Fee schedule updates based on meaningful, physician-endorsed measures of care and clinical improvement; reduced reporting burdens; timely access to quality performance scores
  • Phase III: After several years of risk-adjusted quality-based payments, physicians who perform well would earn additional payments based on efficiency; duplicate programs and reporting requirements would be eliminated.

Other in-put included:

  • a “Provider Shield Act” so that reporting would not be used as evidence in tort actions;
  • private contracting without penalty to physicians and patients to ensure patient choice and access to care.

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About MSNJ

Founded in 1766, the Medical Society of New Jersey is the oldest professional society in the United States. The organization and its dues-paying members are dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, working to ensure the sanctity of the physician–patient relationship. In representing all medical disciplines, MSNJ advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike, for the delivery of the highest quality medical care. This allows response to the patients’ individual, varied needs, in an ethical and compassionate environment, in order to create a healthy Garden State and healthy citizens.

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