MEDPAC Minute – NCGA meets Crossover Deadline

The General Assembly’s self-imposed crossover deadline passed on Thursday.  Hundreds of bills were voted during marathon sessions held all week.  Many bills of interest to medicine were discussed this week as the deadline approached.  Here are 11 highlights:

·         H2 – Prohibit Smoking in Public and Work Places (Holliman, D-Davidson). The House concurred with changes made by the Senate to legislation aimed at improving the quality of indoor air, and limiting the effects of second hand smoke. The most notable change resulting from the bill is that restaurants and bars in North Carolina will now be smoke-free.

·         HB 333 – Certified Professional Midwife Licensure (England D-Rutherford) received a favorable report from the House Health Committee this week.  The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee for further approval.  The NCMS supports this study bill.

·         H436 – Fairness in CON Determinations/Inflation Adjustment (Folwell, R-Forsyth) was approved by the House following significant changes in the House Health Committee. The bill exempts certain limited capital expenditures by nursing homes, adult care homes, and ICF-MR from the CON law.

·         H813 – Uniform Apportionment of Tort Responsibility (Glazier, Blust, Ross, Stiller) passed the House on Wednesday. The bill would repeal the centuries-old rule that a plaintiff who negligently contributes to their own injury cannot recover damages from another person. In its place a comparative fault system would be implemented, wherein the plaintiff’s percentage of responsibility would reduce, not eliminate, the amount recovered. The bill also limits the equally harsh joint and several liability rules under which defendants who played a minor role in causing harm can currently be held to pay the entire judgment. A coalition of business interests, led by the NC Chamber and including the NCMS and the NC Hospital Association, pushed successfully for amendments in the House to further limit joint liability and protect those defendants who were less at fault than the plaintiff.

·         HB 1297 – Provider Credentialing / Insurers (Stewart D-Nash) passed the House and has been sent to the Senate.  This bill would provide for a temporary credential status for providers if the plan / insurer had not completed the credentialing process after 60 days. The NCMS supports this bill.

·         HB 1485 – Insurance / Health Care Provider Relationship (Neumann R-Gaston) passed the House on Thursday. This bill would adjust recoupment timelines in the prompt pay statute.  It will also enact a new provision that would require insurers to provide documentation of each claim that is part of an overpayment inquiry.  The NCMS supports this bill.

·         SB 678 – Establish Physician Assistant Scholarship (Brunstetter R-Forsyth) would create a need-based scholarship fund to foster additional physician assistants to serve NC.  This bill now goes to the House.  The NCMS supports this bill

·         SB 802 – Immunity for Nonprofit Health Referral Service (Rand, D-Cumberland) passed the Senate. The measure would provide limited immunity to nonprofit networks that coordinate referral of low-income patients for free care by physicians and others. The NCMS believes this bill should also extend limited immunity to the volunteer physicians.

·         SB 804 – CON Changes (Rand, D-Cumberland) passed the Senate. The bill requires DHHS to withhold certificates of need until all appeals are completed. The bill also would allow CON holders, in the event of an appeal, to request a higher bond to cover costs and attorneys fees if the appeal is determined to be frivolous. 

·         SB 877 – Health Plan Provider Contracts / Transparency (Clodfelter D-Mecklenburg) would change an insurers’ current ability for to make unilateral changes to contracts with providers.  This bill is a product of foundational work by the NC Medical Group Managers and is supported by the NCMS.  The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

·         SB 958 – Disciplinary Proceedings/NC Medical Board (Nesbitt, D-Buncombe) passed the Senate. The measure would strengthen the due process afforded licensees of the NCMB in the wake of numerous complaints about a lack of transparency and fairness for licensees that are the subject of investigations and disciplinary action by the Board. The NCMS supports this legislation, as it has supported previous bills in 2006 and 2007 to strengthen the Board’s ability to police the profession.



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