Statehouse: HB 60 Update and New Health Care Bills

House Bill 60 (HB 60) pertains to a current Ohio Department of Health (ODH) rule governing maternity units, newborn care nurseries, and maternity homes. The Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) submitted a letter to the House Health and Aging Committee this week expressing support for the bill insofar as it grants greater discretion to physicians. On Feb. 19, OSMA members John Liggett, MD and William Scherger, MD testified in support of the legislation as well.

HB 60 specifically addresses the authority granted to a Level II hospital to make decisions regarding the transfer of newborns that have specific “at risk” conditions, such as a low birth weight or low gestational age, or the admittance of a pregnant woman patient less than 32 weeks pregnant.

Transfer of “at risk” newborns
This rule provides three conditions that, if met, would permit the Level II hospital to keep the newborn. In addition, the mother or guardian of the newborn may refuse the physician’s recommendation to transfer. Thus, on the matter of transferring newborns, there is flexibility built into the rule allowing for physician discretion.

While Drs. Liggett and Scherger acknowledged that the existing rule provides exceptions, they expressed concern to the committee that interpretation and application of those exceptions may ultimately differ from ODH, and that difference in interpretation may adversely impact hospitals when ODH performs its annual inspection.

Admittance or transfer of pregnant patient
On the matter of a pregnant woman patient less than 32 weeks pregnant, the rule prohibits a Level II hospital from admitting the woman, unless it is an emergency situation, such as the patient is having contractions or directing the patient to a Level III facility may jeopardize her health and safety.

Again, Drs. Liggett and Scherger expressed concern that the rule is too restrictive and ultimately pares discretion away from the physician.

The bill is on the House Health and Aging Committee’s agenda for Feb. 27, where the committee will hear proponent and opponent testimony. We anticipate additional hearings on this bill in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact us at govrel@osma.org.

New Health Care Bills
The following bills have been recently introduced into the state legislature. The OSMA will be taking a position on these bills in the next few weeks. If you have any comments on any of these proposals, please send an email to legis@osma.org.

HB 3 - Insurance Navigators: Specifies licensing and continuing education requirements for insurance agents involved in selling, soliciting or negotiating sickness and accident insurance through a health benefit exchange. This bill also makes changes to copayments, cost sharing and deductibles for health insuring corporations.

HB 5 - Municipal Tax Collections: Revises the laws governing income taxes imposed by municipal corporations.

HB 16 - Youth Head Injuries: Corrects a cross reference with regard to concussions and head injuries in athletic activities organized by youth sports organizations and declares an emergency.

HB 34 - BWC Budget: Allows the Administrator of Workers' Compensation to pay for specified medical benefits during an earlier time frame; Makes changes to the Health Partnership Program, eliminating the $15,000 Medical-Only Program; Makes appropriations for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2015; Provides authorization and conditions for the operation of BWC programs.

HB 44 - Administering Drugs during Public Health Emergencies: Requires the Director of Health to develop protocols regarding the authority to administer, deliver, distribute or dispense drugs during certain public health emergencies.

HB 59 - Budget Bill: Main operating budget for fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015.

HB 60 - Maternity Units: See above.

SCR 1 - Medical Devise Tax: Urges U.S. Congress and the President to repeal the new federal excise tax on medical devices.

SB 4 - Newborn Screening: Requires a pulse oximetry screening for each newborn born in a hospital or freestanding birthing center.

SB 9 - Health Insurance Agents: Specifies licensing and continuing education requirements for insurance agents involved in selling, soliciting or negotiating sickness and accident insurance through a health benefit exchange and makes changes to copayments, cost sharing and deductibles for health insuring corporations.

SB 26 - Youth Head Injuries: Corrects a cross reference with regard to concussions and head injuries in athletic activities organized by youth sports organizations and declares an emergency.

SB 39 - Insurance Coverage for HPV Screenings and Vaccines: Requires insurance providers to cover human papillomavirus screenings and vaccines.

SB 43 - Civil Commitment: Makes changes to the laws governing the civil commitment of and treatment provided to mentally ill persons.

SB 49 - Physician Designations: Establish standards for physician designations by health care insurers.

SB 54 – Mammograms: Requires a physician interpreting a mammogram who determines that the patient has dense breast tissue to specify this in the mammography report sent to the patient.

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