Disruptions and distractions will mark the 2012 General Assembly, but they won’t keep the ISMA from pursuing legislative priorities you set for us. Last session, the ISMA was successful in securing bills important to members on the death registry and Medicaid verification systems, synthetic cannabinoids, concussions in athletes – and more.
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This year, we’ll deal with a big interruption – the Super Bowl – at the half-way point of the session. Some anticipate a week-long suspension in legislative activity before the big game Feb. 5 because of a lack of hotel rooms for legislators and staff.
And again, the right-to-work issue, which helped trigger a walkout last year, is expected to dominate. “A summer study committee recommended passage of right-to-work legislation, and bills were enacted to prohibit a recurrence of the walkout. However, other types of disruptions are being discussed,” said Mike Rinebold, ISMA’s director of Government Relations.
The ISMA agenda
A smoke-free air bill will again be introduced. Last year, the effort stalled in a Senate committee and ended in disappointment. But there’s added pressure this year to achieve this long-time goal of the ISMA.
The Indianapolis City-County Council failed to pass a smoking ban for public places in December, and with the Super Bowl bringing the spotlight to our Circle City, hope for a compromise has grown – even as the timeframe for passage grows short.
Some local actions are encouraging. Last summer, Delaware County, with support from area physicians, passed a comprehensive smoking ban with no exceptions or exemptions. (See here for details.) Already, 40 state municipalities have some form of smoke-free air law, according to the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency.
“While there is support on all sides for passage of a statewide smoke-free air bill, we all understand the political environment,” said Rinebold. “We will take our argument to the Statehouse and work to protect the health of all Hoosiers.”
Delegates to the 2011 ISMA convention passed Resolution 11-53 regarding Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. Referred to as POLST, this medical order form is signed by physician and patient to document patient treatment preferences in medical language health care providers understand.
Mary Baker, M.D., submitted the resolution because living wills are not medical orders and, therefore, vague and difficult for clinicians to interpret. “The document gives those with chronic debilitating illness, serious illness, terminal illness or advanced frailty the right to express their end-of-life wishes in an effective and consistent manner,” said Dr. Baker.
Learn more on the Washington State Medical Association website.
At the ISMA’s request, Rep. Tim Brown, M.D., R-Crawfordsville, will introduce a bill based on the resolution. Already recognized in 14 or more states, the document has strong support from not only the ISMA, but also the Indiana Hospital Association, AARP, the Indiana Bar Association, IU Health and Franciscan St. Francis Health. Rinebold expects the measure to move through this 2012 session.
However, note that during the legislative process, a name change occurred and the medical order form is now being referred to as Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST).With help from key legislators, the ISMA will continue efforts to pass a bill on assignment of benefits to ensure physicians are reimbursed for services they provide. Also, Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, will present a measure on HIV testing, the result of a summer study committee.
“Sen. Miller’s bill would make testing for HIV part of the standard battery of tests given upon hospital admission – with an opt-out provision available to patients,” Rinebold explained.
With no state budget to approve, the 2012 session will be short. It will also be the last for some familiar lawmakers. At least 10 House members are not running for re-election and won’t return in 2013.
Notably, Sen. Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, a member of the Senate Health Committee, is not seeking re-election. Rinebold noted, “Sen. Gard has always been a strong supporter of the ISMA, and her absence after this year certainly will make a difference to us.”
|Pictured left to right - Rep. Tim Brown, M.D., R-Crawfordsville; Mike Rinebold, ISMA director of Government Relations; and Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis