Senate Advances Healthcare Bill While SAVE Bill Sent to Study
Friday, June 19, 2020
On June 18, 2020 the Massachusetts Senate released the Patients First Act, An Act Relative to Putting Patients First (S 2769), which would make permanent the changes put forth in the Executive Order issued by Governor Baker lifting NP practice restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would also address easing telehealth restrictions and surprise billing practices. Please see the excerpt below related to Scope of Practice.
This is very exciting news and strengthens our belief that our best chance of passing Full Practice Authority(FPA) legislation this session will be in a larger health care bill.
The MCNP is still reviewing the details of the bill and will consider filing amendments to the language if needed. As the bill is scheduled for a vote before the Senate next week, please be on the lookout for a Call to Action early next week to garner the support of your legislators and advance our efforts toward FPA.
The legislature continues to conduct formal sessions under modified rules and grapple with a massive budget deficit; many committees have delayed and deferred action on individual pieces of legislation. We were therefore disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that both versions of our stand alone NP SAVE Bill were sent to study with other scope of practice bills last week by the Joint Committee on Public Health. Sending a bill to study refers it back to the chamber from where it originated and essentially ends further action on the bill for the session.
Please be assured that with the introduction of the Senate Bill and a healthcare bill anticipated from the House, our efforts are still in play and our fight for Full Practice Authority this session will continue.
Thank you for all that you are doing for your patients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and for your continued engagement and support of our legislative efforts.
The MCNP Legislative Team
PATIENTS FIRST ACT
An Act Relative to Putting Patients First
Section On Expanding Scope of Practice:
Enabling health care professionals to use the full range of their training and expertise is critical to providing access to quality care and expanding the state’s health care workforce. Data from other states consistently demonstrates that authorizing a wider scope of practice for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, psychiatric nurse mental health specialists, podiatrists and optometrists reduces barriers to health care without sacrificing care quality or patient safety. Massachusetts currently limits the provision of care in each of these professions, making it an outlier among other states.
This bill enables nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and psychiatric nurse mental health specialists to practice independently, provided that they meet certain education and training standards and practice under physician supervision for at least 2 years. These standards were part of a March 10, 2020 Executive Order that expanded this same practice authority to advanced practice registered nurses during the COVID-19 emergency.
In addition, the Patients First Act allows Massachusetts optometrists to treat glaucoma, which is common practice in every other state in the country, and authorizes podiatrists to treat ankle conditions, which is allowed in more than 30 states. The bill also creates a new professional license for ‘dental therapists’ who meet rigorous education and training standards and are able to perform a variety of dental care services currently limited to dentists. Dental therapists are licensed in a number of other states and have proven highly effective in providing quality dental care to underserved populations.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the integral role that pharmacists play in health care teams. This bill recognizes pharmacists as health care providers, enabling them to integrate more fully into coordinated care teams and work with patients to review medications to identify areas for care improvement.