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GAPP committee report.

Legislative Weather Report-Springtime in the Rockies

As this article is being written, it is a beautiful almost spring morning on the Front Range of Colorado. The sky is cerulean blue, the birds are chattering and building nests and the temperature is in the sixties. However, a bank of clouds is visible over the mountains and the meteorologists are predicting rain and snow overnight. The tumultuous spring weather with its rapid changes from sunny and calm to cloudy and stormy is much like the 2011 legislative session. The change in leadership in the House of Representatives as well as partisan issues being played out in the Senate and on the Joint Budget Committee has resulted in a challenging legislative session for health care policy makers. Another storm this session is the state budget shortfall of $1.1 billion. This ballooning shortfall has led Governor Hickenlooper to call for hundreds of millions in additional budget cuts over and above those anticipated last fall.

Legislative work has continued despite the unsettled weather in the Colorado General Assembly. Fran Ricker has transitioned into the role of lobbyist for the Colorado Nurses Association in addition to continuing her responsibilities as the Executive Director. Fran's leadership and presence at the Capitol has allowed the Governmental Affairs and Public Policy Committee (GAPP) to monitor, oppose, or support a broad array of legislation this year. This article will summarize the outcome of a few select bills of interest to nursing that the GAPP committee has followed in 2011.

* HB11-1105 Concerning assaults against medical care providers. This bill extends current statutory protection for law enforcement, emergency medical technicians, and fire fighters to emergency medical care providers (including physicians, nurses, nursing assistants and hospital staff) who are assaulted with various bodily fluids. This bill increases jail time and fines for anyone found guilty of assaulting health care providers providing emergency medical care in a healthcare facility. HB 1105 passed the House and at this time is currently en route to the Senate judiciary committee. This bill has wide support in the health care and law enforcement community and is expected to pass the Senate.

* HB11-1152 Concerning health care workforce data collection sponsored by Representative Labuda and Senator Boyd was postponed indefinitely in the House Economic and Business Development Committee on 2/15/11. This bill proposed gathering of workforce data to assist policy makers in identifying which areas of the state are underserved by various health care providers and to make accurate projections of future workforce needs. Supporters of this bill included the Colorado Nurses Association and the Colorado Medical Society and numerous other stakeholders. This legislation continues to be important to workforce planning for Colorado and its supporters will continue to pursue similar legislation in the future.

* HB11-1175 Concerning requirements for health care practitioners to identify to patients the type of professional licensure held by the practitioner. This bill was postponed indefinitely at the request of its sponsor, Representative David Balmer after many stakeholders including the Colorado Nurses Association expressed concerns about certain portions of this bill. The Association has requested involvement in future stakeholder meetings with the sponsor to explore the need for such legislation in the future.

* SB11-012 Concerning student's ability to carry prescription drugs in schools. This bill was brought to the Association's attention by the School Nurse Association due to unintended consequences and potential safety issues posed by this change to the current statute. SBll-012 has been amended to address some of these concerns and has returned the previous statutory requirement for a treatment plan to be on file for ongoing prescriptions in each school. The bill has passed out of committee and is in the process of being read in the House.

* SB11-088 Sunset of direct-entry midwives (DEMs). Direct entry midwives (also known as lay midwives) have been registered in Colorado since 1996. The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) proposed that direct-entry midwives be granted limited prescriptive authority to prescribe vitamin K, rho-gam, anti-biotic eye treatment for newborns, and anti-hemorrhagic drugs. The Colorado Nurses Association, the Colorado Medical Society and other nursing and medical stakeholders successfully argued against granting prescriptive authority to direct-entry midwives due to their lack of sufficient education, skills, and abilities to prescribe medications. The current legislation allows for DEMs to obtain and administer these medications that are considered necessary for the health and safety of the mothers and babies in their care. Consumer groups have successfully lobbied the legislature to add administration of intravenous fluids and suturing certain perineal tears to the DEMs scope of practice. At this time, SBll-088 is on its way to the House and the Association will continue to testify at upcoming hearings about patient safety concerns related these additions to the DEM scope of practice.

* SB11-114 Sunset of the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). This legislation sought to continue the PDMP which permits registered prescribers to access controlled substance prescription records of Colorado health care consumers. This registry provides an essential public service that prevents inadvertent over prescription of controlled substances to Colorado citizens. This bill was unexpectedly postponed indefinitely in the Senate Appropriations committee on 2/25/11. At this time, stakeholders continue to work behind the scenes on crafting new legislation that will allow this important program to continue in the future.

* Last, but not least, Senator Lois Tochtrop has agreed to sponsor a late bill for the Association titled Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) participating provider status. This bill proposes to allow for parity between health care providers under health benefit plans and specifying the conditions under which health insurance carriers must grant participating provider status to advanced practice nurses under the carriers' health benefit plans. The goal of this legislation is to eliminate discrimination between physicians and advanced practice nurses being allowed participating provider status on insurance panels. This bill also prohibits carriers from restricting the scope of practice of advanced practice nurses by requiring them to be supervised by a physician. This bill does not yet have a number due to its late bill status. The Association will be actively supporting this bill and testifying on its behalf once it is heard in committee.

In closing, the weather in the general assembly has been quite unpredictable thus far in 2011. The good news is, if you do not like the weather in Colorado, you just have to wait for an hour and it may change. GAPP is hopeful that the climate for health care legislation improves for the duration of the legislative session.
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Title Annotation:District & Committee Reports
Author:Ciambelli, Mary; Thornton, Marion
Publication:Colorado Nurse
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:May 1, 2011
Words:1082
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