Friday marked the first legislative funnel deadline – the date by which the majority of policy bills must have passed out of a committee in their chamber of origin to remain eligible for consideration this session. We saw action this week on a number of priority areas including:
Our tort reform efforts cleared another procedural hurdle this week as SSB 1225, the Senate bill to impose a $1 million hard cap on noneconomic damages, passed out of subcommittee on Monday and committee on Wednesday, both on a party-line vote. SSB 1225 and House companion bill HF 592 are now both funnel-proof and will remain eligible for consideration through the end of session. We continue to engaged with rank-and-file members of both chambers, along with leadership, to push for the votes necessary to move this reform through the full chambers. We remain at a critical tipping point in the fight for a hard cap. If you haven’t already, please reach out to your local legislators to make your voice heard in this fight.
Telehealth Payment Parity
This week saw movement on a new telehealth payment parity bill in the House. HF 706, which passed subcommittee on Tuesday and committee on Wednesday, would enact 100% commercial payment parity for both physical and behavioral health services. This is now the third telehealth bill to move in the House. HF 431, which would permanently recognize audio-only telehealth, has passed the full House and HF 294, which would enact 100% commercial payment parity for behavioral health services, has previously passed out of committee and is now eligible for consideration by the full House.
During this week’s discussion of HF 706, Representative Joel Fry – the sponsor of all three bills – acknowledged that there are discrepancies between facility restrictions and audio-only telehealth regulations in the various bills. He indicated that they would work to reconcile these differences before bringing another bill up in the full House consideration. There continues to be a number of concerns about the telehealth measures in the Senate where the future of these efforts remains unknown.
Scope of Practice
Two additional scope measures passed out of committee this week to survive the first legislative funnel – a measure to expand the pharmacist stateside protocols and a new measure to update physician assistant practice regulations.
On Thursday, the House Human Resources Committee considered for the third time HSB 91, which would allow pharmacists to administer all pediatric immunizations to patients over the age of three; allow point-of-care testing and treatment for flue, strep, and COVID-19; and allow pharmacists to enter into collaborative practice agreements with any currently authorized prescriber. On two previous occasions, the committee was scheduled to take up this measure, but deferred after objections were raised by members in their closed-door caucus meetings on the bill.
On Thursday, the committee amended HSB 91 to remove the changes to pediatric immunizations, keeping in place the current limitations that prohibit pharmacist immunization aside from the flu vaccine to patients over the age of six months and dose completion on the HPV vaccine series. SF 296, the Senate companion bill, has previously passed out of committee in that chamber. The two bills are now eligible for consideration by their respective chambers.
On Tuesday, a House subcommittee took up HSB 255 – an expansive updating of Code sections to address physician assistant practice. Many of these Code sections have not been updated for decades and in some instances pre-date the state’s recognition of physician assistants entirely. The IMS Committee on Legislation, along with the Iowa Psychiatric Society (IPS), jointly negotiated the contents of HSB 255 with the Iowa Physician Assistants Society over the past several months. The bill represents a series of practice updates IMS and IPS believe are safe and appropriate for physician assistants to perform under appropriate physician supervision. A summary of many of these updates is available here.