2021-2022 Legislative Session: Legislative Activity
The new legislative session is gathering some momentum as both the Senate and House begin
considering legislative proposals. At present, most lawmakers are focusing on COVID-19
vaccinations, budget related matters, and possible election reforms.
As with any new legislative session, the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s (PAMED) focus is on
securing the reintroduction of legislation that failed to get across the finish line in the last session
and working to educate new lawmakers on our legislative priorities.
Chief among those priorities is the reintroduction of prior authorization reform proposals
mentioned below. PAMED has historically been the driving force on this issue, but has welcomed
the addition of a number of patient advocacy organizations into our coalition. Organizations seeking
prior authorization and step therapy reforms now number near 40. Patient engagement on this issue
We also continue to advocate for liability protections related to physicians treating COVID-19
patients. PAMED is part of a broad coalition of statewide organizations seeking protection from
lawsuits stemming from the pandemic.
A resolution on how best to address restrictive covenants in physician employment contracts is also
being pursued. Rep. Toren Ecker (R-Adams) plans to again reintroduce legislation aimed at
protecting patient access to physicians otherwise barred from treating them as a result of contractual
Although PAMED focuses its legislative efforts on issues that have been identified as priorities, we
continue to advocate for the passage of other legislative “fixes” important to our members. Among
those issues are IMG licensing parity, disclosing frivolous medical board complaints, and the
enactment of a statewide POLST program.
PAMED continues to oppose legislation that seeks to expand the clinical practice of non-physician
health care providers, such as the reintroduction of SB 25, legislation that would give independent
practice authority to CRNPs.
These legislative issues require constant monitoring and ultimately physician engagement. It is
critically important for physicians to “engage” when called to do so.
Legislators who have received phone calls from physicians on issues affecting medical practice and
patient care consistently report the positive impact they have on their decision making. Reaching out
to your representatives should not wait until there’s a legislative crisis. Reach out to your local
lawmakers now and get to know them. Developing a relationship when you don’t have a specific
“ask” is the key to a lasting relationship. Physicians interested in getting more involved in legislative
and political grassroots should call PAMED’s Governmental Affairs staff at 800-228-7823.
Prior Authorization Reform (PAMED supports)
- House Bill 225 (Mentzer)/Senate Bill 225 (Phillips-Hill) – Prior authorization reform bills.
There is a large coalition with multiple provider entities and patient advocacy groups seeking
to make wholesale changes to the prior authorization process in the Commonwealth.
PAMED has played an integral role in developing this legislation and working to advance it.
Though there are reserved bill numbers, there has been no legislative language introduced at
International Medical Graduates (IMG) Licensure Parity
- House Bill 245 (Kaufer) – Rep. Kaufer has reintroduced his effort to support IMGs
through this legislation, which seeks to modernize the process by which graduates of
international medical schools become licensed. Similar legislation passed the House last
session, but stalled in the Senate.
- Senate Bill 25 (Bartolotta) – PAMED has long opposed these efforts, but last session
agreed to listen/negotiate a pilot program where CRNPs would be granted independent
practice with specific guidelines and restrictions. As this effort did not come to fruition,
stakeholders are working to determine what legislative action, if any, would look like given
the outcome of the previous session.
Out-of-Network Balance Billing
- HCO 128 (Rapp) – Co-sponsor memorandum to advance legislation that would protect
consumers from surprise balance bills from medical providers. PAMED has played a lead
role in this effort to advance fair legislation dealing with balance billing. Given the recent
passage of the Federal legislation on this topic, No Surprises Act, comprehensive protection
to consumers was provided. At this time, we are asking the General Assembly to defer
consideration of state level legislation pending the full implementation of the new Federal
law. There still may be need for state level legislation in the future, but we won’t know until
the Federal law is fully in place.
Restrictive Covenants (PAMED supports)
- House Bill 681 (Ecker) – Recently, Representative Ecker reintroduced his legislation that
aims to prevent the use of non-compete agreements in health care practitioners’ employment
contracts. PAMED has long had policy to support this effort and will be working to ensure
that any legislation that moves forward considers the impact on all PAMED members.
Liability Protection (PAMED supports)
- Senate Bill 273 (Baker) – COVID-19 liability protection effort; providing for limited,
temporary, and targeted COVID-19-related liability protections for health care workers
engaged in the care and management of patients with or suspected of having COVID-19.
SB 273 seeks to address the disparity between independently practicing physicians with those
associated with hospitals.
Interstate Medical Compact Act (PAMED supports)
- House Bill 192 (Topper) – Legislation to allow Pennsylvania to fully join the Interstate
Medical Licensure Compact, providing for criminal background checks for expedited
Opioid Prescribing Limits
- Senate Bill 169 (Yaw) – This bill would limit the prescription for a controlled substance
containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patients’
health or safety at risk. PAMED has been in discussions with Senator Yaw’s staff regarding
the bill’s text.
Lyme Disease CME (PAMED opposes)
- Senate Bill 281 – (Brooks) – his legislation would require health care practitioners to learn
more about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illness as part of their continuing education
Stay up to date on these and other issues at
www.pamedsoc.org and in The Dose.