KENTUCKY (4/27/14) — Of the 138 or-so bills that passed the Kentucky General Assembly in the last session, a dozen or so deal specifically with human health in a broad array of issues ranging from approval of cannabis oil for epilepsy patients to requiring state abuse registry checks for prospective employees of nursing homes and adult personal care services.
I want to spend my time with you today and in next week’s column looking at the more notable health-related bills that passed last session, reviewing important bills that didn’t pass, and considering why.
First, let’s look at rural health care. Rural health service is always a priority in Kentucky, where at least half of the state’s population lives in rural areas. And health care in those areas has improved in the last decade or so, largely in thanks to Advanced Practice RNs who are often the only readily accessible general health care practitioners around.
As of right now, these capable providers are still tied to physician oversight, especially when it comes to prescribing of non-narcotic prescription drugs like antibiotics, cholesterol medications, analgesics, and other common drugs. But that is about to change.
Senate Bill 7, passed into law during the session, will allow ARPNs to prescribe non-narcotic drugs without entering into a collaborative prescribing agreement with a physician beginning later this year. Specifically, this means APRNs who have practiced for four years will be allowed to prescribe non-narcotics prescription drugs without relying on the approval of a doctor. For Kentucky citizens, this means better, more efficient health care without compromising the quality they receive from APRNs now.
One disease that has spared no county in Kentucky is cancer, and the fight goes on. Lifesaving anti-cancer medications received General Assembly support in the final days of the session with agreement on an amendment to House Bill 126. Thanks to the amended legislation, signed by the governor into law April 11, state regulated health benefit plans that provide coverage for IV and oral anticancer treatment will not be allowed to charge copayments or coinsurance exceeding $100 for a 30-day supply of orally administered anticancer treatment. The legislation, titled “The Cancer Treatment Modernization Act,” has been applauded by the International Myeloma Foundation and other anti-cancer organizations.
Let’s talk a moment about caregiver legislation. As our population ages, the protection of our elderly and vulnerable adults with any kind of disability begins to touch more and more of our families. That is why SB 98, which will require nursing homes, adult day cares and similar adult care facilities to query a state registry for any substantiated findings of adult abuse of prospective hires and volunteers, is so critically important. This legislation has been a while in the making, and was signed into law April 10. It will take effect in June.
I believe SB 98 will provide much peace of mind to those with loved ones in long-term care facilities, adult day care, home health care, and other places where adults are vulnerable and rely on someone else for their care.
Expanded legal authority for child caregivers was also addressed last session with passage of SB 176. Signed into law April 9, SB 176 expands statewide caregiver information and referral services now made available only to grandparents to other relatives caring for children who are not biologically theirs. “Caregiver” under the law will be defined as any adult relative with whom the child lives, including aunts and uncles, step-parents, and step-grandparents.
The law will allow these caregivers to authorize health care treatment and school-related decisions for children in their care by affidavit as long as the parent, legal custodian or defacto custodian is in agreement. Caregiver rights do not supersede parental rights under this new law.
Speaking of schools and health care, I should mention HB 98, signed into law March 5 and already in effect, which will add insulin and seizure rescue drugs approved by the federal government to the list of medications that public and private schools must have someone on hand starting this July 15 to administer, or help students self administer, throughout the school day with parental permission and a doctor’s order.
The new law will also allow a student with diabetes to self-check their blood glucose, administer their insulin and otherwise perform self-care for their diabetes at school upon request of his or her parent or guardian and authorization by his or her physician. And schools will not be allowed to transfer students with diabetes or seizures to another school as of this July 15 on the sole basis that the student has diabetes or a seizure disorder, the school does not have a full-time nurse or the school does not have employees trained to provide necessary care.
You have no doubt heard about the cannabis oil bills that took center stage throughout most of the session in both chambers; essentially, what SB 124 (signed into law April 10) will do is allow medical use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions including pediatric epilepsy.
The oil, which is derived from industrial hemp as well as marijuana without legalizing marijuana use, will only be provided through the UK and UL research hospitals under the supervision of a medical doctor. That way, the legislation ensures the oil only goes to those who are truly suffering, including little children who seek relief from seizures they suffer through daily.
Information provided by Brent Yonts
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