Legislative Week: Medical Liability Reform, Unauthorized Practice of Medicine and Midwifery

The NC Senate passage of SB 33 – Medical Liability Reforms highlighted the legislative week in Raleigh. The bill now goes to the House, where the NCMS will continue to urge lawmakers to pass meaningful tort reform legislation (see separate story on SB 33). 

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary 1 Committee unanimously approved a favorable report for an amended SB 31 – Conform The Penalty For The Unauthorized Practice Of Medicine. Under current law, those residing outside of North Carolina and crossing over state lines to practice medicine without a NC license are subject to a felony while those who attempt the practice of medicine and happen to live in NC are only subject to a misdemeanor. This bill seeks to conform the current penalties so that anyone that attempts to practice medicine in NC without a license would be subject to the same Class I Felony. The need for this bill, sought for years by the NCMS, was recently highlighted when a person posing as a physician treated people in a Fayetteville hospital. Senator Eric Mansfield, MD (D, Cumberland) is the sponsor of the bill.

As the Senate took up SB 33 on Wednesday, non-nurse midwives and their supporters rallied at the General Assembly in support of creating licensed Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in North Carolina. The NCMS continues to oppose licensing of non-nurse midwives on the grounds that it would reduce the current standard of care, which is provided by licensed physicians and Certified Nurse Midwives as set forth by state law. Proponents have indicated that they intend to introduce legislation that would establish licensing for CPMs. Your NCMS will be closely watching these developments and meeting with legislators to explain the importance of maintaining the current standard of care for delivery of babies. The NCMS position was widely reported by the media (see In the News This Week).

Additional bills of interest to medicine:

HB 138 – Amend Health Insurance Risk Pool Statutes sponsored by Rep. Jerry Dockham (R-Davidson) received a favorable report from the House Insurance Committee this week and is calendared  for floor debate next Monday night.  This bill revises the NC High Risk Pool statute in preparation for the changes expected with health reform in 2014.

HB 161 – Transfer State Health Plan to State Treasurer sponsored by Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) and Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford) received a favorable report from the House Insurance Committee and was re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee this week.  The bill would move oversight for the NC State Employee and Teachers Health Plan from a special legislative committee to the purview of the State Treasurer’s Office. 

SB 32 – Hospital Medicaid Assessment / Payment Program sponsored by Sen. Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsyth) and Sen. Dan Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg) received a favorable report for the House Finance Committee and was re-referred to the House Appropriations committee this week.  The bill which would allow for a draw down additional federal matching funds has moved smoothly through both chambers and is expected to be passed by the House next week.

SB 109 – Spending Cuts for the Current Fiscal Year sponsored by Sen. Richard Stevens (R-Wake), Sen. Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsyth) and Sen. Neal Hunt (R-Wake) passed the Senate this week in response to the Governor’s veto of SB 13.  The new bill calls for a similar savings ($537,740,799) to be achieved in the remainder of the current budget year but places the burden on the Governor to determine how to reach that target.  This is the first controversial budget issue between the General Assembly and the Governor as they try to find ways to fill a budget hole of over $3 billion in the next fiscal budget.


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