IMS Advocate: 2021 Session - Week Thirteen

Saturday, April 10, 2021 7:30 AM | Sydney Maras (Administrator)

We’ve now entered the final phase of legislative session, with legislators focused on completing work on the policy bills that cleared the second funnel and developing the budget for the coming fiscal year. Shells for nearly all budget bills have now been introduced, however, negotiations toward the final budget deal are still in their early stages. This week saw a modest bit of good budget news for the medical community and further action on multiple issues of interest.

Physician Workforce

On Thursday, the joint Education Appropriations Subcommittee met to discuss the initial draft of the FY22 Education Budget that includes funding for the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program. The initial education budget, which has not yet been assigned a bill number, includes $300,000 in additional funding for the program. This raises the total state funding for the joint public-private trust fund to $1.7 million in the coming year. Education leaders in both chambers have expressed support for increasing funding to this popular program, however, the final funding increase may change once the two chambers agree upon final budget targets.

The Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program provides up to $200,000 in loan repayment in exchange for a qualifying physician agreeing to practice in an eligible community for a period of five years. Earlier this session, IMS and the Iowa Psychiatric Physician Society successfully pushed for expansion of the program to include eligibility for OB/GYNs and for part-time physicians who agree to a longer service commitment. Iowa College Student Aid Commission, which administers the program, has indicated that the $300,000 funding increase currently under consideration would allow for one additional medical student to qualify for the program this year as they must allocate the full $200,000 in the year the student enters into the program. The additional dollars would rollover to next year, allowing for two additional students to participate next if the $300,000 increase is sustained.

Pharmacy Scope

On Thursday, the House debated SF 296 to expand the pharmacist statewide protocol statute.

In response to concerns raised by IMS and others in the medical community, the House Human Resources Committee scaled back the original proposal when it passed out of committee a few weeks ago. On Thursday, the House amended SF 296 to align with the more restrictive House version of the bill. The measure now returns to the Senate for consideration of the House amendment.

Original Bill

As Passed By House

  • Flu, Strep, COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing & Treatment to Patients of Any Age
  • Collaborative Practice Agreements with Any Prescriber
  • Administration of All Tobacco Cessation Products
  • Administration of Any Pediatric Immunizations to Patients Over Age Three
  • Flu, Strep, COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing & Treatment to Patients Over Age Six
  • Collaborative Practice Agreements with Any Prescriber


Residency Liability Protections

Recently, we told you about a new effort to offset the soaring costs of medical liability coverage for community-based residency programs in the state. This week we saw continued work on this stop-gap measure. After multiple attempts to identify a workable option for offsetting these costs, Representative Ann Meyer filed a strike-after amendment to HF 852 this week to roll this effort into the existing medical residency matching grant program through the Iowa Department of Public Health. Under the new model, community-based residency programs may apply to the state for a dollar-for-dollar match to cover a portion of the costs for medical liability coverage for their program.

HF 852 does not appropriate additional dollars for the existing IDPH program, which also helps fund some residency slots across the state, however, it is anticipated that there will be an appropriation increase as part of the HHS budget to help fund this expansion. The previous iteration of this grant program did not require residency programs to offer a dollar-for-dollar match to qualify for state funding and was estimated to cost the state approximately $2.5 million to cover the liability coverage costs for eligible programs. Under this new matching grant model, it is anticipated that the costs to the state will be lower. The bill has been added to the House debate calendar and is expected to be considered soon.

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