Legislative Update: Lawmakers Work on Many Health-Related Bills

The 2011 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly continues to bustle along, considering many pieces of legislation that directly relate to health care and the practice of medicine.  The Senate spent much of its week in budget discussions, working to make changes to the House budget that was passed earlier this month.  Appropriations committees are scheduled to begin meeting on Tuesday morning, with a final Senate budget to be considered soon thereafter.

Amidst the budget talks, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services met on Wednesday morning to discuss two pieces of legislation. The first, SB 246 – Expand Pharmacists’ Immunizing Authority, Hartsell (R-Cabarrus) would propose to expand pharmacists’ immunizing authority to administer any CDC approved vaccination or immunization, under rules established by the Commission for Public Health, as follows:

  • Children aged 7-13: influenza with parental consent, other vaccines with a prescription order.
  • Children aged 14-17: with parental consent, no prescription required.
  • Adults 18 and older:  by patient request, no prescription required.

The NCMS partnered with the Academy for Family Physicians and the NC Pediatrics Society in opposition to the bill as drafted. A subcommittee will be appointed to negotiate the bill and will include legislators as well as representatives from the physician and pharmacist communities.

Also discussed at Wednesday’s Senate Health Committee was SB 743 – Encourage Volunteer Health Care Providers, Goolsby (R-New Hanover).  NCMS supports this legislation which would create a volunteer license that allows physicians from other states to come to North Carolina and participate in clinics set up in underserved areas. The license would be valid for no more than 30 days of the year and does not create reciprocity between state medical boards.  The bill also creates some protections for physicians taking a referral from a non-profit community health referral service (such as Project Access) to see patients in their own office. This limited liability mirrors the current liability protection for physicians seeing patients free of charge based on referrals from a free clinic or local health department. This bill was reported favorably out of the Health Committee and is now referred to the Finance Committee for consideration.

Other legislation on the move this week:


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