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Tough Legislative Session Underway by DAVid wroten executive vice president
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Brace yourselves ; it ’ s going to be a bumpy ride . The General Assembly is in high gear and , as usual , health care issues are abundant . There are bills that deal with COVID-19 , face masks , restrictions on step therapy , changes in telemedicine , a massive effort to repeal the “ soda-pop ” tax that funds the Medicaid Trust Fund , and reauthorization of Arkansas Works . Oh , and did I fail to mention that there are about 18 bills that deal with scope-of-practice ?
The Arkansas Medical Society has its hands full , and the outlook for some of the scope-of-practice bills looks to be cloudy , with a chance of high winds and thunderstorms . There are the usual suspects – namely , APRNs who want full prescribing authority , repeal of collaborative practice agreements , and “ primary care provider ” status within the Medicaid program . Then there are the pharmacists , led by Walmart , who want not only to vaccinate children down to age three but also to be able to treat certain other so-called minor acute medical conditions and dispense oral contraceptives without a physician prescription . Bills have also been filed to remove supervision requirements of CRNAs , change the statute regarding physician assistants , remove the requirement that certified nurse midwives have a consulting physician , and create a licensing
AMS members should not assume that the scopeof-practice victories of the past 15 years are any guarantee of success this time around . program for naturopaths . On the bright side , there is also a bill to remove all restrictions on physician dispensing .
AMS members should not assume that the scope-of-practice victories of the past 15 years are any guarantee of success this time around . Also , add to that the COVID restrictions in place at the Capitol that will prevent AMS ( or anyone else ) from filling committee rooms with physicians in white coats .
It is going to be the most challenging legislative session that most of us have ever been through . When possible , we will attempt to outright defeat some bills . When not possible , we must be ready to look for compromises that protect quality of care and do no harm .
Watch for the AMS Legislative updates and alerts . When asked , contact your legislator as soon as possible … do not wait . The current rules for this legislative session are that committee chairs must announce their agenda items at least 18 hours before the meeting . That means that in some cases , we will only have one day to generate calls . When possible , and as directed by the updates and alerts , reach out to your legislators ahead of time to discuss your concerns or support of bills .
So , buckle up and hang on tight .
196 • The Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society www . ArkMed . org