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Health care run down

March 30, 2011

It’s another busy day for health care at the State House and beyond.  Here are a few of the highlights-

Health Insurance Exchange-3pm  room 212 at the State House

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will review a bill (S 87) to create a market place for buying health insurance.  The exchanges are of course one of the requirements of the national health care overhaul. States can either create their own by 2014 or let the federal government take over.  There are a lot of questions to answer about RI’s exchange- who will be able to use it?  How will it work?  But don’t expect this bill to answer those questions.  This document just creates a “public corporation” charged with tackling those issues.

Get rid of eligible handwriting by doctors-3pm  room 212 at the State House

This is another issue before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  Bill S 465 prohibits hand written doctors notes and requires all records be type written.  As you can expect, the RI Medical Society is no in favor of this bill, saying despite the community’s progress using electronic medical records, the bill would create unnecessary havoc in physician’s offices.  The Boston Globe did a write-up on this bill last week. At the time, it said the issue was “languishing in the legislative equivalent of a doctor’s waiting room” because no hearing had been scheduled.  Well, now it has.

Licensing genetic counselors-3pm  room 212 at the State House

This is once again an issue before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  Bill S 61 creates a framework for regulating and licensing people who counsel parents about the likelihood of genetic birth defects or give advice to patients with genetic disorders.

Eliminate grassroots medical marijuana growth– 4:30pm in the House lounge

The House Committee on Health, Education, and Welfare is reviewing a proposal (Bill H 5401) to do away with patients’  rights to grow their own marijuana and the eliminate “caregiver” system for providing marijuana to patients that don’t know how/can’t grow their own.  Instead,

Effective January 1, 2013, the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana shall only be authorized by compassion centers.

There’s a lot of paranoia in the medical marijuana community about who’s behind this bill- many worry that it’s a way for the compassion centers to gain a monopoly over their medicine.  Patients argue that growing their own is much cheaper than buying it, and they already know which strains work for them.  But sponsors say the law would keep marijuana out of the wrong hands and make the work of law enforcement officials easier.

Who will buy Landmark?– end of business today

Today is the deadline for potential owners to make a bid on Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket.  The hospital’s special master is expected to select his favorite offer  by Friday.  Landmark’s spokesman Bill Fischer still hasn’t told me whether he’ll make the names of bidders available to the media today.  We already know about a few of them.  Strangely, everyone  so far is from Tennessee.

Did I miss anything important?  Let me know.

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