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Scope of Practice Bill Heard Before Joint Committee of State Administration & Regulatory Oversight

Tuesday, December 30, 2014   (0 Comments)
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By Gintautas Dumcius

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 30, 2014.....A top House lawmaker is pushing for a bill she says will help in cutting health care costs and increasing transparency.

A bill proposed by Rep. Patricia Haddad, a Somerset Democrat and the speaker pro tempore, would set up a new vetting process for legislation that would propose to alter health care providers' "scopes of practice," or direct them to provide certain health services.

The bill (H 4561) aims to reform the current committee process for reviewing bills by tasking the Health Policy Commission, an independent body that analyzes the health care market, with reviewing legislative proposals and providing guidance to the Legislature. The proposed process is similar to how the Center for Health Information and Analysis reviews and makes recommendations on legislation concerning mandated health insurance benefits.

Haddad, who testified in favor of the bill at a Joint Committee of State Administration and Regulatory Oversight hearing on Tuesday, said "scope of practice" bills should be vetted by professionals like those on the Health Policy Commission.

Gloria Craven, representing the Massachusetts Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, also testified in support of the bill, and the Massachusetts Podiatric Medical Society gave supportive testimony.

Susan Walsh, president of the podiatric group, said the current legislative process for passing "scope of practice" bills tends to be "impacted by issues that have little to do with the merit of a particular proposal."

House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading), a co-sponsor of the bill, urged the committee to approve the bill. "This legislation increases transparency in the process of adopting a scope of practice proposal," he wrote in a Dec. 29 letter.

Only a week remains in the current Legislative session for the bill to pass both the House and Senate and be signed by the governor.

No opposition was voiced during the brief hearing, though the Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons submitted a letter saying the bill "appears to violate legislative lawmaking by allowing a non-elected state Commission to essentially establish the laws of the Commonwealth."

"While we recognize the value of having an independent agency review and make recommendations on scope of practice legislation, we strongly oppose the legislation as drafted and would welcome the opportunity to work with the Committee on language that balances the need for both independent review of scope of practice legislation and legislative due process," the society wrote.

Rick Gulla, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Medical Society, the state wide association for physicians and medical students, told the News Service in an email that the group has not yet taken a position on the bill and is studying it "in detail."


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