Sugary sweetened beverage or soda pop tax 

The efforts to move the sugary sweetened beverage or soda pop tax forward this legislative session received a boost on Monday when the tax was amended into SB 335 during the Senate's Committee on Tax Reform. 

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Bills on our Radar

HB 2071/SB 386 - Addressing medical marijuana - its use and legalization. Neither of these bills are moving but due to 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.

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 - Completed Legislative Action. 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  - on 1st reading in House. 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 - passed House; in Senate Judiciary. 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 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 - Completed Legislative Action. 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 - in Senate Judiciary. The purpose of this bill is to permit a prescriber or patient to choose to fill a prescription of a Schedule II drug partially. 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. 

SB 457 - Eliminating WV Health Care Authority - in Senate Health. The purpose of this bill is to eliminate the Health Care Authority and Certificate of Need and to transfer the state Privacy Office to the Office of the Governor and transfer the West Virginia Health Information Network to the Office of Technology and to make conforming amendments. Please check your email for a survey asking for your opinion on this bill.

HB 2509 - Relating to the practice of telemedicine - Passed House; in Senate Judiciary. The purpose of this bill is to permit a physician to prescribe certain controlled substances when using telemedicine technologies.

SB 465 - Relating to medical professional liability -  in Senate Judiciary. The purpose of this bill is to allow for admissibility of a letter of merit in actions against health care providers and it allows testimony in a judicial proceeding or by deposition upon issuing a letter of merit.

SB 560 - Creating medical malpractice peer review panel by Board of Medicine -  in Senate Judiciary. The purpose of this bill is to establish a medical malpractice peer review panel by the Board of Medicine to review medical malpractice and medical malpractice-related claim.

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