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Physicians active at Capitol this week

The physician voice was heard at the Capitol this week with Wisconsin Medical Society members testifying on 11 bills in three different committees. Physicians testified in support of the most recent round of HOPE legislation in the Senate Health and Assembly Substance Abuse and Prevention committees and advocated against a bill that would exempt complementary and alternative health care practitioners (CAHCs) from state licensing requirements in the Assembly Committee on Health.

HOPE Legislation

Ritu Bhatnagar, MD, MPH, testified on Wednesday in Senate Health in support of SB 581-extension of the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), SB 582-reimbursement for peer recovery coaches, SB 591-registration of recovery residences, SB 594-opioid antagonist administration in jails and creation of a MAT pilot and SB 600-BadgerCare reimbursement for nonpharmacological pain treatment. During her testimony Dr. Bhatnagar related her personal experience working with addiction patients and fielded questions on the number of physicians specializing in addiction treatment and the history of opioid addiction in the United States.

Taylor Boland Rigby, MD, also testified on Wednesday on HOPE legislation. Dr. Boland Rigby testified in the Assembly Committee on Substance Abuse and Prevention on AB 645-opioid antagonist administration in jails and creation of a MAT pilot, AB 646-registration of recovery residences, AB 647-extension of the PDMP, AB 650-reimbursement for peer recovery coaches, and AB 651-permanent extension of Good Samaritan law. During her testimony Dr. Boland Rigby responded to inquiries about the continuation of care for patients after they are released from prison.

The Society is supportive of this most recent round of HOPE legislation as it expands needed access to treatment for patients suffering from opioid use disorder and repeals the sunset on the state’s Good Samaritan law. The package would also extend the requirement to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to 2025.

CAHC Exemption

In Assembly Health, Nicole Hemkes, MD, testified against AB 546 which would exempt CAHCs from any state licensure requirements. CAHCs include practitioners such as naturopaths, homeopaths, holistic wellness coaches, herbalists and other non-licensed alternative therapy practitioners. Under the bill CAHCs would also not be required to meet any minimum requirements for training, education or certification; nor would they have to carry any form of liability insurance. These requirements apply to all other licensed health care providers in the state. Dr. Hemkes highlighted her unique practice model along with her training and education, while also acknowledging the roles that licensed and certified non-traditional providers can play in patient health and well-being. Other health care provider groups also testified in opposition – citing concerns about the lack of appropriate certification and regulatory standards.

Other bills of note this week are Society-supported bills AB 542-cancer trial reimbursement and AB 648-BadgerCare reimbursement for nonpharmacological pain treatment, which is also a part of the HOPE package. The Society is monitoring a myriad of other bills and with the 2019-21 session expected to wrap up by mid-March, the next couple months will be busy.

If you have any questions, please contact HJ Waukau.

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