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The Louisiana Legislature convened its second Special Session on Monday, September 28. Currently, there are more thanone hundred instruments that have been filed for consideration. Each of those instruments must fall within the 70 item call that was issued last week. So far, the vast majority of the instruments filed focus on the Public Health Emergency and how it has been handled by the Executive Branch of the Louisiana government. The Legislative Branch has been very frustrated by
its inability to be involved in the decision making process in response to COVID-19. As representatives of their constituents, legislators are looking for changes that allow them to insert themselves into the process. As we are in an emergency related
to health, LSMS will be carefully watching related bills and will report on actions as they occur.
On Wednesday, September 30, Senate Health and Welfare convened with Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Shreveport, bringing three pieces of legislation to add Louisiana to interstate compact licensure commissions. The three bills cover physicians, EMTs/EMS practitioners,
and audiologists. Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, contended the immunity language, which was intended to apply only to the board created by the bill, was overly broad and could be applied to individual practitioners. The committee moved to defer the
bills for a week to further review language, particularly regarding the immunity language.
Sen. Robert Mills, R-Minden, had his SB 12 also deferred for a week. This bill attempts to avoid liability issues with facilities as some hospitals are prohibiting pastors
from visiting patients in the wake of the pandemic. The author cited the need for "religious liberty" and avoiding "the federal government getting involved." Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, himself a pastor and author of HB 33,
noted the importance of "total care of the total person." Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, said liability cannot be waived ahead of time, as the bill seeks to indemnify hospitals from liability from clergy entering a facility. The Louisiana Department
of Health indicated it could achieve the goal of this legislation by rule and expressed concern about definitions. More to come regarding these bills in the weeks ahead.
A list of legislation LSMS is tracking:
Requires that any communication issued to students or parents relative to immunization requirements include information on exemptions from compliance with such requirements (Item #42)
Provides access for patients of hospitals and residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other adult residential care homes to members of the clergy who volunteer to minister and provide religious sacraments and services, counseling, and mental health support during COVID-19 and other public health emergencies (Item #28)
Authorizes transportation network companies to provide nonemergency medical transportation services through the state Medicaid program and all other publicly and privately issued health insurance plans (Item #32)
Provides for rights of nursing home residents relative to visitation (Item #59)
Provides for immunizations or vaccinations relative to COVID-19 (Item #40)
Requires regular reporting of the number of school-age children known to have an infectious disease during a public health emergency relating to the disease (Item #28)
Authorizes administration of medical marijuana to a student by a parent, guardian, or authorized school employee at a public school (Item #42)
Requests a study of the costs and benefits of setting Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care services equivalent to Medicare rates for those services
SB12, Mills, R
Provides access for patients of hospitals and residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other adult residential care homes to members of the clergy who volunteer to minister and provide religious sacraments and services, counseling, and mental health support during COVID-19 and other public health emergencies
Provides for the Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact (REPLICA)
Requires school boards to accept certification of illness from a nurse practitioner or physician assistant when employees use leave due to personal illness
Provides relative to the practice of medicine
Provides for the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC)
For more information regarding the Special Session, please contact Maria Bowen, Vice President of Governmental Affairs.
Sen. Regina Barrow (Baton Rouge – D) introduced two bills to expand scope of practice for pharmacists.
SB 51 seeks
to lower the age from seven to three years for vaccinations allowed to be given by pharmacists. While LSMS and other physician groups argued against this practice in committee, the bill was still reported favorably without objection from the Senate
Health and Welfare Committee. It has not yet been received on the floor of the Senate, but that will be its next step.
I urge you to reach out to your Senator (CLICK HERE for
contact information) and ask them to vote NO on SB 51 with the message below:
Please oppose SB 51. Pharmacists are not equipped to manage an emergency reaction in a retail environment for this young vulnerable population.
Pharmacists do not have access to a patient’s health record to know what existing conditions may be included that would make vaccinations dangerous for these young children.
The well child visit with a physician that accompanies administering vaccinations is critical for toddlers.
SB 63 would have opened the practice of medicine to pharmacists
and was heavily supported by national chain drug stores. This is a similar bill to one discussed but never filed last year. LSMS and other physician groups heavily opposed this legislation in committee. Sen. Barrow eventually withdrew the legislation
Sen. Barrow Peacock (Shreveport – R) introduced three licensing compact bills this year. LSMS is neutral on these bills, all of which came out of committee on Wednesday.
SB 13 is
for Emergency Medical Services Personnel.
SB 27 is for Physicians.
SB 34 is for Audiologists/Speech Pathologists.
Rep. Danny McCormick brought two anti-vaccination bills to House Health and Welfare this past Tuesday. LSMS and other provider groups opposed these bills, and both failed to be reported from committee.
HB 13 would have required all schools to notify parents
of their right to refuse vaccinations at any point they communicated with them regarding vaccinations.
HB 49 would have prohibited employers from requiring vaccinations as a condition of employment.
As this Special Session begins to wind down, legislation
moved quicklyover the course of the week. Most pressing was Sen. Regina Barrow's
SB 51, allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines. A special thank you to all of you who responded to LSMS's Call to Action against SB 51. Your voice was heard as the bill failed to acquire the necessary support to move forward. With its failure, SB 51 was placed on the reconsideration calendar, however Senator Barrow recognized that she could not secure the votes necessary to pass the bill upon reconsideration and returned it to the calendar. We will continue to monitor this piece of legislation.
Sen. Barrow Peacock successfully passed his licensure compact legislation, SB 27
, which now moves to House Health and Welfare. This legislation, if successfully passed, would bring Louisiana into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
that aims to expedite the licensure process for physicians moving to Louisiana by having the initial required documents, certifications, and background checks provided by the group prior to application.
Sen. Beth Mizell brought forth SB 60, legislation that seeks to eliminate the 7-day exception of checking the Prescription Monitoring Program for physicians who write a 6 or fewer day opioid prescription. The bill was heard in committee and deferred after hearing concerns relative to possible complications upon implementation. While the LSMS remains neutral, staff has been working with Senator Mizell to establish language that may help her, while still preserving some flexibility for prescribers.
Special Session by the numbers:
- Sept. 28, 2020 Date convened
- Total Instruments Filed: 264
- Bills Filed: 175
- Number of Instruments Completing the Process: 56
- Number of Bills Completing the Process: 10
- Bills that have become ACTS: 0
- Date mandated for adjournment: October 27, 2020