HARRISBURG – During a Zoom discussion this week with members of the Lycoming County Medical Society (LCMS), state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) identified a few of his legislative priorities for the 2021-2022 session.
“The heroin and opioid crisis continues to devastate our residents and our communities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the crisis in Pennsylvania,” Sen. Yaw said. “While the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has significantly decreased overprescribing, I still believe that we need to mirror other states in limiting the prescription of an opioid to seven-days, unless, of course, there is a medical emergency that puts the patients’ health or safety at risk. This includes chronic pain. I have heard from many chronic pain patients who fear that their medicines will be taken away from them. That will not be the case under this proposal.”
On Tuesday, Governor Wolf signed the 13th renewal of his January 2018 opioid disaster declaration to help the state fight the opioid and heroin epidemic. The declaration was the first of its kind for a public health emergency in Pennsylvania and proved to be an important tool to allow the state to respond quickly, adapt to developing needs, increase access to treatment and save lives.
Yaw also highlighted legislation that will codify a Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form that may be used by individuals wishing to designate end of life wishes. A POLST form specifies the types of medical treatment that a patient wishes to receive towards the end of life. These medical orders must be signed by the patient or the patient’s surrogate and either a patient’s physician; physician assistant or a certified registered nurse practitioner. Yaw hopes to add this form in statute.
“I have worked closely with Dr. (Alex) Nesbitt over the years to update the law to include the recognition of POLST orders. We are very much engaged with the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association on this issue,” Yaw noted.
During the call, the LCMS members also discussed two of their own issues before the legislature. Senate Bill 225 will streamline and standardize the process for prior authorization of medical services in Pennsylvania. Prior authorization refers to any process by which physicians and other health care providers must obtain advance approval from a health plan before a specific procedure or service is delivered to the patient to qualify for payment coverage.
Additionally, the physicians on the call also noted support for legislation amending the Professional Nursing Law, to add a new section creating a six-year pilot program to allow certified registered nurse practitioners (CRNPs) to practice without a collaborative agreement in areas of the Commonwealth that demonstrate a critical shortage of primary care physicians. This legislation, House Bill 100, did not pass during the previous 2019-2020 legislative session.
The Lycoming County Medical Society is a learning organization which promotes the delivery of quality healthcare through patient advocacy, practice advocacy and physician advocacy.
For more state-related news and information visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.