State House News May 7 - 14
The House of Representatives was off last week for their third and final furlough of the session. The Senate continued their business trying to clear the calendar in preparation for debate on the appropriations bill this week in attempts to finish by this Friday, May 17. Late nights are expected as much discussion centered around Medicaid expansion is anticipated.
Doctors of the Day
Thanks to John Schaberg, MD (West Columbia,), Greg Barabell, MD (Charleston), and Anthony Harris, MD (Aiken) for their volunteer service at the State House last week!
Concussion Education and Safety Bill Advances
After weeks of negotiation and amendment drafting, H.3061 (McCoy), legislation regarding the nature and risk of concussions in high school athletes and how to treat them, passed the Senate Education Committee last week as amended.
SCMA proposed an amendment deleting the requirement that all physicians must have CME hours in concussion education and that any physician making a secondary (away from the sidelines) assessment of an athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion must have training in concussion management. The concern was this mandate would have a chilling effect on medical doctors, many in rural areas, who have the ability to identify and treat sports-related head injuries by imposing additional liability. The amendment was unanimously adopted and both provisions were deleted.
Currently, the bill requires educational material, including nationally recognized guidelines and procedures regarding the identification and management of suspected concussions in student athletes, to be posted by DHEC on its website. This information, reflective of current medical literature provided by members of sports medicine community including, but not limited to, the SCMA, Brain Injury Association of SC, the SC Athletic Trainer's Association, the National Federation of High Schools, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The language also directs DHEC to post continuing education opportunities in concussion management being offered by provider groups on its website.
The bill also specifies which health care providers may make an initial assessment of an athlete suspected of a concussion and requires that any final return-to-play decision must be made in writing by a medical doctor.
H.3061 now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Attempts to Implement False Claims Halted in Senate Judiciary Committee
Last Thursday night, the Senate Judiciary Committee debated this year’s contentious ethics bill, H.3945, for over 8 hours with proponents of amendments supporting the False Claims Act (FCA) waiting until late evening to force the issue for debate.
The federal FCA, among other things, financially incentivizes whistleblowers who make claims against those who contract with the government, including Medicaid and Medicare providers. SCMA has opposed these attempts and standalone legislation for many years.
Sen. Gerald Malloy (Hartsville), an attorney and long-time supporter of the FCA, proposed an amendment to implement such provisions in the bill. After heated discussion, the attempt failed by a vote of 11-8 thanks much in part to Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin (Pickens) and other members who voted against this dangerous initiative: Sens. Sean Bennett (Dorchester), Lee Bright (Spartanburg), Chip Campsen (Charleston), Tom Corbin (Greenville), Greg Gregory (Lancaster), Greg Hembree (Horry), Shane Massey (Edgefield), Paul Thurmond (Charleston), Ross Turner (Greenville), and Tom Young (Aiken).
The controversial bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration, which is expected to be heated with additional attempts to add FCA amendments. SCMA will continue to adamantly fight any such proposals.
Last Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee confirmed the Governor’s appointment of William Blume, Jr. as Director of the Department of Revenue (DOR). Blume has been serving as Interim Director of the agency since December following the resignation of James Etter in the wake of the security breach at the agency. The confirmation now goes to the full Senate.