LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

Every year during the Utah State Legislative Session, the UAFP Legislative Committee meets regularly to discuss bills that may have an impact on our family physicians. Bills are reviewed and the committee decides to support, oppose, or stay neutral and our executive director is on Capitol Hill, every day, lobbying on behalf of UAFP.

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During the 2019 session, there were several bills of interest to UAFP. Below are a few of our priority bills:

SB264 Medical Treatment Authorization Amendments

Three years ago UAFP presented a resolution to the UMA House of Delegates that supported easing the administrative burden placed on physicians and their patients by insurance prior authorizations. This session, after several changes, SB 264 passed. It requires greater transparency by insurers including a requirement to post online covered drugs, devices, procedures that require prior authorization and standardizing prior authorization forms, including a 72-hour turn-around time for urgent requests. While this is not all that was requested this is a big step in the right direction to ease the administrative burden placed upon physicians and freeing us to do what we do best—taking care of our patients.

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HB 443 and SB 265 Health Care Transparency

Two bills written under the guise of “transparency” but would have prevented physicians from collecting on services provided if the amount presented prior to treatment was more than anticipated, and also would have caused onerous reporting requirements to physicians and healthcare systems. Fortunately both of these bills failed.

HB 337 Professional Competency Standards Amendments

This bill would have negated a good law from the 2018 session that prohibits physician cognitive testing based on age and that is not aligned with nationally recognized standards. We worked diligently in opposition to this year’s proposed changes and our work paid off. Although the bill passed, it was changed significantly--only making very minor changes that will not impact the protection against discrimination for our aging doctors.

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HB 324 Tobacco AgeAmendments

UAFP has been a consistent supporter of strong tobacco legislation. This bill follows what is quickly becoming a trend across the country—raising the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products. While there are a few exceptions we oppose this is an important bill that will save lives. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths and the majority of smokers start at ages younger than 21. This new law will have a significant and positive impact in the lives of Utahns.

If you would like to be involved, consider joining the UAFP Legislative Committee. It is a great way to learn more about the impact the legislature has on family medicine, and to get involved working for positive change. To join, email Maryann Martindale and let her know you are interested.

For a complete list of all bills during the 2019 legislative session, visit le.utah.gov.

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