July Legislative Update
Ohio Budget Bill, NCPA Legislative Conf, Future and Current LegislationLegislative Update July 2003
Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs
The Budget Bill
House Bill 95, the budget bill, passed the full Senate on Thursday, June 5, by a 24-9 vote. The bill was sent to conference committee where the differences between the two bills were hammered out. Both the House and Senate adopted the conference committee report on June 20. With 29 line-item vetos, the Governor signed the budget bill June 26.
Major provisions of the newly adopted conference committee report include a one cent sales tax which will be repealed after two years; the addition of Medicaid dental, vision, and podiatry benefits back into the budget that had previously been removed from the House version; and the removal of the Video Lottery Terminal language that the Governor threatened to veto.
The following items in the budget bill are of particular interest to pharmacists. The language dealing with a medical management program that would reimburse pharmacists for providing consulting services to physicians who prescribe drugs for Medicaid patients has been deleted. We have been in contact with the Department of Job and Family Services, who administers the Medicaid program, and will continue to work with them to make sure that pharmacists are fully and fairly compensated for the services they provide.
In regards to immunization, an amendment was added to the budget bill that would delete the words by injection from Ohio Revised Code. This change will allow pharmacists to administer vaccines by other routes in the future.
NCPA Legislative Conference
In May, several members of the Ohio Pharmacists Association traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in the Annual Legislative Conference sponsored by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). This year’s conference centered on the practices of PBMs, and protecting Medicare beneficiaries from being denied the medicine their doctors prescribe and allowing them to select the pharmacy of their choice. OPA members and staff in attendance were Debbie Lange, President; Kent Zellner, Past President; Tom Whiston; Bob Mabe; Bob Blake; Ernie Boyd, Executive Director; and Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs. The conference was very informative and the data brought home will be useful in looking at the practices of PBMs in Ohio.
OPA is currently looking into drafting legislation that would regulate the PBM (pharmacy benefit manager) industry in Ohio. Much of the information circulated at the NCPA conference dealt with some of the disturbing practices of PBMs, and the fact that they are currently a completely unregulated industry. If you have any instances of disturbing PBM practices or abuses, please contact Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs, at 614.798.0037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will also continue to look at drafting legislation that would make changes to the pharmacy practice act including:
- Adding the administration of epinephrine and diphenhydramine for emergency situations pursuant to physician-approved protocols, adding meningitis and diphtheria (i.e., tetanus/diphtheria) to the current list of approved vaccines.
- Removing the 30-day notification to the patient’s family physician or Department of Health.
- Allowing pharmacy interns, who have completed the prescribed training and are working under the supervision of a pharmacist who has completed the training, to administer these vaccines.
- Removing the word “adult” when referring to those to whom pharmacists may administer a vaccine, and adding “persons 14 years and older.” This will be especially helpful with the meningitis vaccine, which is most effective in the 14 to 18 year age range.
The House and Senate have finished their work and are recessed for the summer break. The Legislature will reconvene in the fall. Several pieces of legislation of interest with recent activity include:
SB 43: Uniform Prescription Drug Card.
This legislation requires insurance companies to put all the information you need to process a claim on the insurance card. The bill was scheduled to have sponsor testimony in June. However, due to time constraints and the budget deliberations, testimony was cancelled. The bill will be taken back up in the fall when the Legislature returns from summer break and it is our hope to have quick passage of this important legislation.
HB 146: Diabetes Coverage.
Proponent testimony for this bill was heard on Wednesday, June 18 in the House Health and Human Services Committee. This legislation would require benefits for diabetes equipment, supplies, medication, and self-management education to be included in health care coverage. Further testimony will be taken up in the fall when the Legislature returns.
HB 142: Meningitis Vaccines.
This bill was voted out of committee on May 21, 2003 and out of the House on June 3, 2003. The bill now resides in the Senate Health Committee. The Legislature will take this bill up in the fall when it returns. It involves colleges and universities requiring students living in on-campus housing to be vaccinated for meningitis or obtain a waiver of the vaccination requirement.
SB 14: Rx Program.
This bill would create the Rx Program in the Department of Job and Family Services to provide participants discounts on prescription drugs. It requires the Director of Job and Family Services to adopt rules governing the Rx Program, and would allow the Director to establish maximum amounts that terminal distributors of dangerous drugs may charge for any or all prescription drugs. In its current form, OPA is vigorously opposed to this bill. It institutes price controls on pharmacies, and gives too much power to the Department of Job and Family Services in setting up and running the program without sufficient input from pharmacists.
More detailed and/or up-to-date information about the above legislation can be found at www.ohiopharmacists.org/leginfo.html. Simply click on the Click HERE for LEGISLATIVE UPDATES box. From this location, you can do a search on specific legislation by entering the bill number or subject in the Search box and then clicking on Go.
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