During the legislative session I get weekly updates from the Idaho Medical Association on the bills they are following. And, week after week, I note that this is what lobbyists are supposed to do–educate legislators and voters.
Medical bills are a substantial portion of the legislative endeavors. At this stage in the session–when only a few special committees may yet submit bills–297 bills have been introduced. Of these, 23 pertain to schools, 30 to courts, and 32 to health.
The IMA Status Report usually summarizes and tracks about half the health bills in five or so pages.
Last week’s report points out that several changes to the Medicaid Expansion proposition are still in the draft stage, but the IMA Board has voted not to endorse any bill which would delay implementation, add to the cost, or take coverage from individuals.
That puts the IMA squarely behind Medicaid expansion as the voters passed it.
Two issues I would otherwise be unaware of are labelled “top priority.” One would implement the second year of a 10-year plan for graduate medical education developed by the State Department of Education by creating 19 new slots for medical residents and fellows and increasing the funding per person.
The request for an additional $1,657,500 per year is before JFAC, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.
The other, an IMA proposal, would create a Maternal Mortality Review Committee within the the Department of Health and Welfare. The report quotes the medical journal The Lancet: “The US has a maternal death rate of 26.4 per 100,000 live births compared to other countries such as UK (9.2), Germany (9), France (7.8), Canada (7.3), Spain (5.6), Italy (4.2) and Finland (3.8).”
Six maternal deaths in 2017 put Idaho’s rate just over the US average. The House Health and Welfare Committee will decide whether HB 109 advances.
That’s positive lobbying–no hardsell, just quickly getting someone from uninformed to equipped with relevant facts from reliable sources.
This IMA Status Report supports six other issues. One bill, allowing all licensed medical personnel access to opiod antidotes, has already been signed into law. Another, that allows the Board of Medicine to discipline doctors for “unprofessional or disruptive behavior” even if a patient is not harmed, has passed both houses. Also, a new administrative rule requiring a meningitis vaccine for students entering their senior year has been accepted. Other supported bills include requirements for pharmacy benefit managers, expansion of a drug donation plan, and better insurance coverage of oral chemotherapy.
The IMA opposes only one issue, HCR 4, that would do away with vaccine requirements for students. Apparently, it is dead in committee.
Although the IMA does not take a stand on other bills, the status report summarizes others, notably ones that were new the preceding week or that are progressing through the legislature.
The House has passed HB 59 which allows drivers as young as 15 “to volunteer as organ donors on their driver’s licenses” and and HB 64 which revises the legislation passed last year that requires reporting of complications resulting from abortions.
The Senate has passed SB 1049 to bring Idaho’s law on partial-birth abortion in line with the Federal law.
The IMA Status Report covers a wide range of issues that don’t always make the press. Those who would like to receive this report, may call (208) 344-7888 or send their email address to email@example.com. (As an organization for those in the medical profession, IMA doesn’t expect others to join.)
Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019