The Ohio General Assembly concluded its lame-duck session, meeting until the wee hours of the morning on December 9, and as usual, legislative mischief occurred as bills that hadn’t moved out of committee were combined into other bills that were moving. And as is common, bills commonly referred to as “Christmas tree” bills were hung with many legislative provisions that had nothing to do with one another, even though the practice is prohibited by the Ohio Constitution.
Two bills that the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians monitored closely were approved without being subject to mischief.
House Bill (HB) 216, Representative Dorothy Pelanda’s proposal to modernize laws governing advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), passed the Senate, and the House concurred with several minor amendments. At its board meeting in October, the OAFP changed its position on the House-passed version of HB 216 from one of strong opposition to neutral with technical assistance. The OAFP had adopted a position of strong opposition to the “as introduced” version of HB 216 which would have allowed APRNs to practice independently in Ohio. After much work by organized medicine, amendments adopted in the House-passed version of HB 216 include removal of independent practice provisions leaving the standard care arrangement in place; grants, under certain circumstances, an APRN a 120 day grace period to enter into a collaborating arrangement with another physician should their original physician relationship terminate; includes residential care facilities as locations that an APRN may prescribe schedule II controlled substances; maintains the requirement that the State Medical Board of Ohio adopt a drug formulary but modifies to stipulate that the formulary be exclusionary; does not allow APRNs to sign death certificates; eliminates the current externship requirement but similar requirements can be addressed in standard care arrangements; maintains collaboration requirements and increases the limit to no more than five APRNs to collaborate with a physician regarding prescribing. Further, non-technical changes were not anticipated in the Senate per agreement with the bill sponsor and, in fact, did not occur during the lame-duck session.
Senate Bill (SB) 332, that implements new policy initiatives aimed at helping to reduce Ohio’s infant mortality rates, passed and is on its way to Governor Kasich for his signature minus the objectionable requirement that would have required physicians to complete cultural competency continuing medical education as a condition of state licensure. SB 332 enacts recommendations issued by the Ohio Commission on Infant Mortality, which include equipping organizations with the resources to help pregnant mothers quit smoking and eliminating the sale of crib bumpers.
The OAFP and other physician organizations were successful in amending the legislation to remove that cultural competency requirement. Instead, the Senate-passed version of the bill now requires professional boards to annually provide their licensees or certificate holders with a list of continuing education courses and experiential learning opportunities addressing cultural competency in health care treatment. If a state board determines that a sufficient number of courses or experiential learning opportunities do not exist, the board shall collaborate with the organizations to create such courses and opportunities.
Mischief did ensue, however, with regard to the abortion issue. On December 6, HB 69, a bill that prohibits a woman from having an abortion once a heartbeat can be detected, was inserted into HB 493, legislation dealing with child abuse. The announcement that this would be allowed to happen occurred approximately 90 minutes prior to the start of the session.
In addition, SB 127, a bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks passed. The House Community and Family Advancement Committee amended the bill removing exemptions for women with diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Both abortion bans, HB 493 and SB 127, are awaiting action by Gov. Kasich.