2021 Legislative Sessions Kick Off – What is OSMA Working on So Far?
The 134th General Assembly is underway, and hearings in the Ohio House and Senate have begun. As always, OSMA is on hand to monitor all legislation as it is introduced, identify proposals that would affect Ohio physicians and patient care, and make your voice heard on emerging issues.
Here are the main activities OSMA has been involved in thus far this legislative session:
- Ohio Budget Fiscal Years 2022-2023: The Legislature must approve a two-year budget proposal to be sent to the governor for signature by the end of June. Governor Mike DeWine has announced his initial Executive Budget and OSMA has reviewed this proposal for health care components. This will be a major item of discussion as we move toward spring 2021.
- Health Orders: At the end of the 133rd General Assembly last year, OSMA joined the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics – Ohio Chapter, and the Ohio Business Roundtable in opposing SB 311, which would have limited the authority of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to issue mandatory statewide or regional quarantine orders. Our coalition expressed serious concerns about that legislation, fearing even higher risk of community spread of COVID-19 infection. The bill was passed, but vetoed by the governor.
This year, the Ohio Legislature is pursuing two companion proposals, SB 22 and HB 90, which would take a slightly different approach, giving the House and Senate the ability to rescind orders and rules issued by ODH or the governor by concurrent resolution and through the creation and implementation of the Ohio Health Oversight and Advisory Committee.
Dr. Andrew Thomas, OSMA member, Council member, and Zone 2 lead for the state’s pandemic response, has already testified on behalf of OSMA in opposition to SB 22, giving his remarks at the Statehouse before the Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee. Dr. Thomas took questions from committee members after relaying his testimony and citing significant concerns about the legislation hampering the state’s ability to effectively respond to public health emergencies, including the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
OSMA will continue to monitor both bills as hearings proceed in the next several weeks.
- Medical Compact: OSMA is supporting SB 6, which would enter Ohio into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. Already adopted by 29 other states, the Compact creates an easier and more efficient pathway for physicians who wish to practice medicine and be licensed in multiple states, and was designed to facilitate growth in telemedicine utilization in a way that preserves regulation of the practice of medicine by individual states. OSMA believes that the IMLC represents another tool to help physicians utilize increase opportunity to provide high-quality care to patients in need.
- Dextromethorphan Sales: A proposal that OSMA has previously supported has been reintroduced for this legislative session. HB 9 would prohibit the sale of dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in cough syrup, without a prescription to any individual under the age of 18. Facing an emerging trend of youth abusing cough syrup, at least 20 other states in the U.S. have passed similar legislation to protect their children. OSMA supports this bill to help prevent youth from easily obtaining large quantities of dextromethorphan with the intention to abuse it, while maintaining the ability of children who need it for medical reasons to get it either with a prescription or by a parent or guardian buying it for them.
OSMA expects that more legislation from last general assembly will be reintroduced soon, and there are also new proposals on the horizon! Stay tuned for updates as the government relations team researches and advocates on additional issues, and the legislature moves forward.