Legislative Update from LHA

Legislative Update from LHA | Louisiana Medical News, Louisiana legislature, Louisiana hospitals

Healthcare Funding Restored

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee removed all cuts in HB 1 by Rep. Jim Fannin (D-Jonesboro) to hospitals and other healthcare providers and fully restored healthcare funding. HB 1 now moves to the full Senate for debate, which will take place Sunday, June 19.

The LHA is activating our grassroots network to urge legislators to "support the changes made by the Senate Finance Committee in HB 1 and protect vital healthcare funding for our most vulnerable patients." Contact your Senator today using our LHActNow Legislative Action Alert System . We are encouraging hospital leadership to continue putting pressure on their senators and representatives by making personal phone calls letting them know how any cuts would affect their hospitals. If passed, HB 1 will move to the House for concurrence. If the House does not concur, HB 1 will be sent to a conference committee, which is made up of three members from each chamber who will attempt to resolve the differences of the House and Senate.

The 2011 Regular Session ends no later than 6 p.m. on June 23. Other healthcare-related legislation that moved this week:

* Patient's Compensation Fund - On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee reported favorably HB 287 and HB 341 by Rep. Chris Hazel (R-Pineville), which would protect the funds of the Patient's Compensation Fund (PCF) from being appropriated and prevent the state from being liable for the debts of the fund, and HB 69 by Rep. Anthony Ligi (R-Metairie), which would allow the PCF to hire a money manager to invest its funds in the same manner as the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System (LASERS). HB 69 was amended to satisfy a civil service issue. These three bills may be up for final passage as early as Sunday, June 19. HB 69 will then have to go back to the House for concurrence.

* Budget Flexibility - The House Committee on Appropriations considered three bills Monday that the Jindal Administration was pursuing to provide greater flexibility in the state's budget process - SB 144 by Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe), along with SB 131 and SB 137 by Sen. Gerald Long (R-Winnfield). These bills were voluntarily deferred in the House Committee on Appropriations.

* Tax Issue - Also on Monday, HB 488 by Rep. Hunter Greene (R-Baton Rouge) was voluntarily deferred in the House Committee on Ways and Means. HB 488 would have prohibited the Department of Revenue from collecting tax on any transaction for which no clear intent to tax by the legislature exists unless the department promulgates a rule indicating its intention to do so.

* Hospital Education Mandate - SB 156 by Sen. Sharon Broome (D-Baton Rouge), as amended, passed the House Monday on a vote of 100 yeas and 0 nays and has been sent to the governor. This bill requires hospitals prior to discharge to provide parents of newborns educational information on Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diptheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Adsorbed (Tdap).

* Medical Records - On Tuesday, SB 27 by Sen. Jody Amedee (R-Gonzales), which would expand the class of persons eligible to obtain medical records, passed the House with amendments on a vote of 91 yeas, 0 nays with 14 members absent. On Wednesday, the Senate concurred in the House amendments, and the bill now moves to the governor's desk for his signature.

* Employment Requirement - HB 392 by Rep. Chris Hazel (R-Pineville), which permits an employer to obtain conviction records of an applicant seeking employment if the applicant has signed a consent form, passed the Senate Tuesday on a vote of 38 yeas and 0 nays. An amendment passed that would permit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to obtain information regarding volunteers. This bill now moves to the House for concurrence.

* Clinical Laboratory Personnel - Also on Tuesday, HB 307 by Rep. Robert Johnson (D-Marksville), which would enable additional certifying entities for clinical laboratory personnel, was heard on reconsideration (after having failed on final passage previously). The bill was amended; however, HB 307 failed to pass with a vote of 20 yeas and 72 nays.

* UPL Methodology - On Wednesday, SB 176 by Sen. David Heitmeier (D-New Orleans), which would authorize DHH to develop and maintain an upper payment limit (UPL) financing methodology for all healthcare providers licensed by DHH, passed the House, as amended, by a vote of 98 yeas and 0 nays. SB 176 now moves to the Senate for concurrence.

* Cigarette Tax - On Thursday, a House vote to override the governor's veto of HB 591 by Rep. Harold Ritchie (D-Bogalusa) failed by a vote of 58-44. This bill would have continued a four cent tax on a pack of cigarettes.

* Tax Issue - SB 259 by Sen. Rob Marionneaux (D-Livonia) would reduce and eventually eliminate the state personal income tax over a ten year period beginning in 2014 and create a state commission to submit a written plan with recommendations for the reduction and eventual elimination; however, the legislature would not have to accept the recommendations of the commission. On Thursday, SB 259 was amended on the House Floor to take into account the loss of state revenue through the elimination of various tax exemptions. Handling the bill on the floor, Rep. Hunter Greene (R-Baton Rouge) objected to the amendment by Rep. Chris Roy (D-Alexandria) and, with the passage of the amendment, Rep. Greene returned the bill to the calendar. Later in the day on Thursday, the bill was returned to the House Floor, and Rep. Greene proposed an amendment to delete the Roy amendment. That motion was defeated on a vote of 46 yeas and 46 nays with 13 members absent. The bill was then returned to the calendar for a second time.

To see the status of other bills by category, visit the LHA's online bill tracking .

SOURCE: Clark Cossé, ccosse@lhaonline.org; Sean Prados, sprados@lhaonline.org; KarenSue Zoeller, kzoeller@lhaonline.org