An Attempt to Repeal the Helmet Law
Foiled by Senators Stollings & Takubo!

SB 173 - Relating to Autocycles
The purpose of this bill is to create an exemption for autocycles which are enclosed motorcycles that are equipped with safety belts, airbags, a roll bar, a windshield, wipers, a steering wheel and equipment otherwise required on a motorcycle, and which have no more than three wheels in contact with the roadway at any one time.  An amendment was made in a late evening Judiciary Committee that added language that would in essence, repeal the helmet law for motorcycles.

The WVSMA lobby team was able to lead the charge and collaborate with hospitals, the insurance industry, the WVU School of Public Health and other interested parties to support an amendment made by Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone) that would add language to preserve the helmet law.  The WVSMA also submitted a position paper on the importance of preserving the helmet law.  After a lengthy debate on the House floor and persuasive comments made by Senator Stollings as well as Senator Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha), the Stollings Amendment prevailed. The language preserving the helmet law was adopted. The bill will be on passage stage tomorrow, Friday, March 10.

Bills on our Radar
HB 2071/SB 386 - Addressing medical marijuana - its use and legalization.  
Neither of these bills are moving, but due to the current climate, it is possible they could gain traction.  WVSMA has a position statement expressing its opposition to the legalization of medical marijuana related products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)

SB 47 - Exempting certain employers from discriminating against tobacco users - in Senate Health
The purpose of this bill is to exempt employers that have as one of their primary purposes to discourage the use of tobacco products by the general public from discriminating against tobacco users. The exemptions covered include health care facilities which provide treatment for life-threatening illnesses caused by tobacco use and those affiliated employers whose principal business is directly related.

SB 184 - Privatization of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
This bill provides for the privatization of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.  It appears this bill is dead.

HB 2502 - Relating to reciprocity of occupational licenses with other states - Recommitted to Judiciary on 3rd reading 
The purpose of this bill is to permit a licensed professional in another state to apply for licensure in West Virginia if certain conditions are met.  An amendment was made that exempts out any profession for which West Virginia has entered into an interstate compact.  

SB 389 - Creating exemption from certificate of need for services and equipment purchased for use in private physician offices - in Senate Health
The purpose of this bill is to allow private physician offices to offer any service or purchase any piece of major medical equipment for use solely in his or her private medical practice

HB 2300 - Regulating Step Therapy Protocols  - Passed House; in Senate Health
The purpose of this bill is to regulate the use of step therapy protocols by providing a simple and expeditious process for exceptions to the protocols that the health care provider deems not in the best interests of the patient. 

HB 2301 - Relating to Direct Primary Care - passed House; passed Senate
The purpose of this bill is to permit individuals to enter into agreements, for direct primary care with an individual or other legal entity authorized to provide primary care services, outside of an insurance plan or outside of the Medicaid or Medicare program and pay for the care.

HB 2331 - Raising the legal age for purchase of tobacco and tobacco products - failed House Health  
The purpose of this bill is to raise the legal age for the purchase of tobacco from 18 to 21 years old.  Despite the public health evidence presented during committee, the conservative philosophy of being against an overly regulatory government caused the bill to fail.   NOTE:  The Senate version of this bill, SB 37 has passed Senate Health and is before Senate Finance.

HB 2471 - Relating to insurance coverage for breast cancer screening  - passed House Banking & Insurance, with amendment; in House Finance
The purpose of this bill is to require that on and after January 1, 2018, insurance coverage for breast cancer screening be provided by the Public Employees Insurance Agency, accident and sickness insurance providers, group accident and sickness insurance providers; health care corporations and health maintenance organizations.  The bill was amended in House B&I to expand the definition of radiology and mammography to include ALL groups rather than just certified radiology and mammography. The intent is to make sure the bill applies to a broader category of provider and to eliminate any loophole in coverage.

HB 2520 - Prohibiting use of tanning devices by persons under the age of 18 - in House Judiciary
The purpose of this bill is to prohibit persons under 18 from laying in tanning beds.  Penalties are included to those tanning bed facilities that fail to comply.  

HB 2526 - Classifying additional drugs to schedules I, II, IV, and V of controlled substances - on 3rd reading
The purpose of this bill is to add additional drugs to schedules I, II, IV, and V of controlled substances.  Based on the names that are outlined, it appears there is the attempt to regulate synthetics, such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana.  An amendment was made to remove certain formulas and adds language to allow for cannabinoids if the product is approved by the FDA.  A floor amendment was offered by Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio) and Delegate Issac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) that would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 controlled substance to a Schedule IV controlled substance. This would allow for doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical use. After several hours of debate on the House floor, the amendment was rejected.

SB 121- DHHR rule relating to medication-assisted opioid treatment programs - passed Senate Health, to Senate Judiciary
The purpose of this bill is to authorize DHHR to issue of rule on medication-assisted opioid treatment programs.  There was an amendment made in Senate Health addressing methadone a and the fact is it a schedule II drug and not reportable based on federal law.

SB 122 - DHHR rule relating to medication-assisted treatment; office-based medication-assisted treatment - passed Senate Health, to Senate Judiciary
The purpose of this bill is very similar to that of SB 121.  It authorizes DHHR to issue a rule on office-based medication-assisted treatment.  This would be a new rule and there are over 500 pages of public comments on the topic.  

SB 385 - Relating to a tax on soft drinks - in Senate Health;
The purpose of this bill is to change the structure of the tax on bottled soft drinks to 1ยข per ounce and to rededicate the proceeds to all three medical schools in the state.
NOTE: It is expected that by early next week, there will be a House version of a sugary sweetened beverage tax bill to go along with this Senate version.  Details are still being discussed as to whether Governor Jim Justice will introduce a bill of his own.

SB 402 - Relating to covenants not to compete between physicians and hospitals - in Senate Health
The purpose of this bill is to prohibit non-compete covenants between physicians and hospitals.

HB 2431 - Allowing influenza immunizations to be offered to patients and residents of specified facilities - passed House; on 2nd reading in Senate
The purpose of this bill is to allow the offering of influenza immunizations to patients or residents (65 years or older) of authorized hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

SB 428 - Relating to partial filling of prescriptions - passed Senate Health
The purpose of this bill is to permit a prescriber or patient to choose to partially fill a prescription of a Schedule II drug. This bill was introduced by Senator Ryan Weld (R-Brooke), who is also a prosecuting attorney. He says the bill will put West Virginia in line with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a federal law passed in 2016.

This video contains proceedings from yesterday's (March 9, 2017) legislative session--Senate floor. To see Dr. Stollings & Dr. Takubo effectively arguing against SB137, fast-forward to the 17th minute of the video.

FOR ADDITIONAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATES, please go to our website on Mondays to view Healthcare Highlights.