While the legislative attention at the State House for 2019 is expected to continue focusing on energy issues from last year as well as look to education reform, health care is an ever-pressing concern as well, and SCHA will be there.
Our priorities for this year will be continuing to work on improving access to coverage and care as well as making hospitals safe places to be for employees, patients and visitors. We’ll be focusing on these issues specifically as the legislative session begins for South Carolina lawmakers:
• Behavioral Health: SCHA supports improving access to services for behavioral health patients and reimbursement policies to include mental health and substance use disorders. A birth-to-grave approach to treating mental illness is the best approach to address and prevent epidemics like the opioid crisis.
• Telemedicine: We support policies to make telemedicine a sustainable business model for the patients being treated and the originating site clinicians. We also support passage of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to expedite licensure for specialists to provide care via telemedicine and more easily allow South Carolina physicians to provide services in other states via telemedicine.
• Workplace Safety: SCHA supports legislation to enhance penalties for violence against healthcare workers to improve working conditions for hospital employees and safety for patients and visitors. We also support other legislative approaches, including trespassing legislation, to improve conditions.
• Coverage: Access to quality health coverage is a top priority for SCHA. We will work with stakeholders throughout the state to develop a plan specific to South Carolina's needs.
• Tort Claims Act: SCHA anticipates major changes to the Tort Claims Act to be proposed. We oppose unreasonable increases in damage limits and other unreasonable changes to the Act.
• Additional Issues: Many issues affect hospitals and come up throughout the year. SCHA is prepared to respond when necessary. We expect an effort to update the physician assistant scope of practice and support efforts to do so. We also anticipate a push to legalize medical marijuana again this year. We will examine details of any proposals thoroughly, but generally oppose efforts to legislate prescription drugs rather than have them go through the scientific process.
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