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December 2020

Stay up to date on PAMED's legislative priorities at www.pamedsoc.org/Advocacy.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly completed its 204th
legislative session on November 30, 2020, a date set forth
in the state's constitution. This ends two years of legislative
deliberation and law making. At the conclusion of the session,
there were 4,200 bills filed in both the House and Senate
with only a small portion (290) making it to the Governor's
desk for signature into law. Additionally, another 312 bills
were vetoed by the Governor. Legislation not approved
by the General Assembly during the session expired.

counselors, optometrists, or CRNPs. PAMED, part of a
broader physician coalition, led a historic effort to negotiate
a compromise with certified registered nurse practitioners
(CRNPs) seeking independent practice authority. Although
the coalition saw the pilot program approved by the State
House, the legislation stalled in the Senate Consumer
Protection & Professional Licensure Committee. As of
this writing, the organization representing CRNPs have
announced they no longer support the agreement and will
again be seeking universal independent practice authority.

When the 2019 session commenced, much of PAMED's
focus was on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's proposed
change to the venue rule related to the medical professional
liability claims. In addition to venue, PAMED anticipated
engaging in other " priority " areas such as scope of practice,
restrictive covenants, surprise billing, telemedicine, and prior
authorization reform. However, as the Covid-19 pandemic
surged to the forefront in early 2020, attention rapidly shifted
to protecting our front line health care providers and ensuring
that they had the necessary tools and support to remain treating
patients and keeping themselves and those around them safe.
Other legislative initiatives were placed on the back burner.

PAMED also spent considerable time engaged in discussions
with physician assistants who are seeking to change the process
by which their supervisory agreements are structured and
approved. Dialogue between our two groups did produce a
better understanding of how current requirements disadvantage
PAs over other providers such as CRNPs. Efforts to address
concerns expressed will continue next session as we work to
find a resolution that will appropriately reflect contemporary
practice while at the same time ensuring patient safety.

From the beginning of the pandemic, PAMED, working
with several stakeholders, repeatedly pressed Governor Wolf
to provide immunity protection to physicians and other
healthcare providers who were treating COVID-19 patients.
The entire business community was also pressing the Governor
to protect businesses that began manufacturing COVID-19
related materials from unnecessary litigation. The Pennsylvania
Coalition for Civil Justice Reform (PCCJR), of which PAMED
was a founding member, continues to urge Governor Wolf
and lawmakers to provide broad immunity protections to
those directly affected by the pandemic. While the business
community was unsuccessful in securing protections for
businesses, Governor Wolf did issue an executive order (EO)
that served to protect healthcare providers who provided
care within a hospital or ambulatory surgery center. While
PAMED applauded these protections, the EO order failed to
provide needed immunity for thousands of other providers
caring for COVID-19 patients. PAMED will continue to seek
broad protections for all physicians and other care givers
engaged in the care and treatment of this patient population.
Scope of practice again dominated our legislative activities
whether it involved pharmacists, physician assistants, genetic


winter 2021

We were happy to see that Pennsylvania's ophthalmologists
resolved a decades long battle with optometrists through
the adoption of an agreement that provides optometrists
with limited expansion in the treatment of glaucoma
while at the same time expressly prohibiting " surgical "
procedures including laser surgery. With the exception
of the ophthalmology issue, we anticipate the remaining
scope issues to be reintroduced early next session.
Working with a provider coalition that included pathologists,
emergency physicians, anesthesiologists, and others, PAMED
played an active role in helping to prevent the passage of
surprise billing legislation that would have been detrimental
to both patients and physicians. We expect a more palatable
proposal to be introduced early next year. PAMED also
continued to push for prior authorization reform, an issue
that continues to take shape and evolve into what we hope
will be a successful effort in the coming legislative session.
It is fair to say that absent the public health crisis, this session
likely would have looked a lot different from a legislative
outcome perspective. As we begin a new legislative session
in January 2021, we will continue to engage and actively work
to advance PAMED's key legislative priorities. With that
being said, the pandemic still persists, and we will continue
to work to protect our heroes serving in the trenches.


Bucks Montgomery Physician Winter 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Bucks Montgomery Physician Winter 2021

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