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MINORITY REPORT

WEEK 14 April 19 - April 23

The Arkansas Legislative session is closing in on its final days, and committee members are doing their best to get bills presented and passed before the close of the session. Among the bills approved by the Arkansas House and Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committees were: 

HB1746: Establishes Annalynn’s law, amends the Cosmetology Act, exempts certain individuals from licensure by the cosmetology technical advisory committee and exempts certain establishments from licensure by the Cosmetology Technical Advisory CommitteeHB1199: Amends the provisions concerning contracts, reports and records of pest control services

HB1894: Creates the Blue Ribbon Task Force to end child abuse

HB1547: Prohibits the state from mandating a vaccine or immunization for COVID-19 and governs requirements for a vaccine or immunization for COVID-19

HB1612: Requires evaluation and restructuring of licensure fees related to the practice of physical therapy

HB1709: Provides guidelines on how rebates are offered by a pharmaceutical manufacturer that sells insulin in this state

HB1847: Amends the eligibility for long-term care Medicaid assistance, ensures that beneficiaries on the low-income disabled working person category of Medicaid can transition to other categories in the Arkansas Medicaid program

HB1852: Sets standards for prescriptions delivery

HB1880: Amends the Behavioral Health Crisis Intervention Protocol Act of 2017

SB595: Clarifies that the Department of Human Services is the agency that regulates long-term care facilities and removes references to the office of long-term care

SB639: Authorizes off-label use of drug treatments to treat patients diagnosed with pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infection

SB669: Amends the Arkansas Sewage Disposal Systems Act and amends the law authorizing local standards for sewage disposal systems

SB663: Modify the authority of the Department of Health during a public health emergency

HB1944: Facilitate the conversion of plastics and other recovered materials through advanced recycling processes

SB640: Extends the statute of limitations for medical debt in certain circumstances

SB615: Prohibits the requirement of vaccine passports in Arkansas

SCR11: Encourages the United States Congress and the United States Food and Drug Administration to enter into international reciprocity agreements for medications.

SB595: Ends mandatory face covering requirements in the state of Arkansas

SB547: Amends certain provisions of Initiated Act 4 of 1948 and regulates a direct seller as an independent contractor

HB1800: Amends the law regarding contractors, requires registration of roofing contractors and authorizes the residential contractors committee to issue roofing contractor registration certificates

HB1890: Creates a study on the commercial application of existing technology to reclaim and repurpose spent nuclear fuel rods

HB1910: Amends the law concerning the authority of the Arkansas Fire Protection Services Board

SB611: Creates the Acuity-Based Care Committee and recommends protocols and procedures to create standardization and consistency in nurse staffing within hospitals and rehabilitation and long-term care facilities

This week's session has concluded and will resume on Monday. 

 

WEEK 13 April 12 - April 16

During this week's legislative session, the Arkansas Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor passed the following bills:

SB615: Prohibits the requirement of vaccine passports in Arkansas.

SB617: Requires written consent of a patient to transfer a prescription from a pharmacy, requires certain disclosures of ownership interest or possible conflicts of interest and prohibits data mining of patient information.

SB663: Modifies and defers the authority of the Department of Health to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services concerning Hospitals Without Walls program.

SCR11: Encourages the United States Congress and the United States Food and Drug Administration to enter into international reciprocity agreements for medications.

HB1687: Amends the requirements regarding locations for and geographic areas of a home healthcare services agency.

HB1760: Establishes the psychological interjurisdictional compact in Arkansas.

HB1810: Requires certain reimbursement rates in the Arkansas Medicaid program for vagus nerve stimulation therapy system devices.

HB1828: Clarifies that the Department of Human Services is required to promulgate rules to establish eligibility for long-term care nursing facility placement.

HB1862: Prohibits requiring certain referrals from a primary care provider in order for a beneficiary in the Arkansas Medicaid program to receive mental health counseling.

HB1875: CreatesH the Earn and Learn Act, allows individuals to work and earn a paycheck while also fulfilling licensing requirements and gaining the skills to fill the needs of an expanding workforce.

SB677: Amends the definition of “long-term care facility.”

SB650: Amends the asset limits for the SNAP program and directs the Department of Human Services to request a broad-based categorical eligibility waiver.

HB1459: Ensures that all healthcare providers are reimbursed for behavioral health services by the Arkansas Medicaid Program.

HB1520: Amends the Arkansas code concerning occupational criminal background checks, and ensures that licensees who were licensed prior to the enactment of Acts 2019, No. 990 are allowed to maintain their licenses.

HB1582: Authorizes a multiyear license or registration for a physician by the Arkansas State Medical Board.

HB1585: Requires employees of certain healthcare providers to have a criminal background check.

HB1664: Amends the Environmental Compliance Resource Act, and clarifies the authority of an environmental compliance officer, environmental violations citied and the judicial venue where citations are filed.

HB1682: Authorizes colocation for outpatient behavioral healthcare agencies.

HB1689: Creates the Arkansas Legislative Study on Mental and Behavioral Health.

HB1780: Amends the laws concerning medication assistive persons and allows education programs for licensed practical nurses in certain facilities.

HB1781: Clarifies and expands the prescription limitation in the Arkansas Medicaid program.

HB1796: Amends occupational criminal background checks.

HCR1010: Encourages the United States Congress to establish a maximum limit of opiate alkaloid contamination of poppy seeks, ensures the safety of imported poppy seeds, issues import requirements and conducts testing.

SB143: Ensures the beneficiaries of the Arkansas Medicaid Program have access to new products and label expansions approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

SB640: Extends the statute of limitations for medical debt in certain circumstances.

HB1794: Creates the Licensed Practical Nurse Pathway Pilot Program.

HCR1007: Recognizes January 22 as the Day of Tears in Arkansas.

HB1836: Amends the law regarding the Division of Environmental Quality and amends the penalty for the knowing refusal of right of entry and inspection to Division of Environmental Quality Personnel.

HB1177: Authorizes emergency medical services personnel to administer certain emergency prescription medications to a patient who has a specific health condition.

SB248: Creates the Food Freedom Act, and exempts certain producers of homemade food or drink products from licensure, certification and inspection.

SB539: Amends the law regarding the payment of wages and establishes parameters regarding the recoupment of overpayments by employers.

SB595: Clarifies that the Department of Human Services is the agency that regulates long-term care facilities and removes references to the Office of Long-term Care.

HB1439: Updates the Volunteer Health Care Act and includes therapists, addiction specialists and counselors in the Volunteer Healthcare Program.

SB590: Ends mandatory face covering requirements in the state of Arkansas.

SB625: Amends the Cosmetology Technical Advisory Committee, and establishes procedures for licensure and regulations of permanent cosmetics and semipermanent cosmetics procedures.

HB1068: Clarifies the Telemedicine Act, specifies that the home of a patient may be an originating site for telemedicine, and group meetings may be performed via telemedicine and clarifies reimbursement of telemedicine services.

HB1440: Modifies the curriculum of massage therapy schools and allows remote education in an online format and in-person training with a master massage therapist to meet certain requirements.

SB262: Amends the licensing of operators of solid waste management facilities, amends the licensing committee, allows for biennial license renewal and addresses reciprocity in Arkansas.

HB1847: Amends the eligibility for long-term care Medicaid assistance, and ensures that beneficiaries on the low-income disabled working person category of Medicaid can transition to other categories in the Arkansas Medicaid Program.  

HB1855: Amends the law concerning the bonding procedure for payment or performance bonds issued under contracts for the construction, erection, alteration, demolition, or repair of any building, structure or improvement.

SB466: Clarifies the regulation of psychiatric residential treatment facilities.

This week's session has concluded and will resume on Monday. 

 

WEEK 12 April 5 - April 9 

During this week's legislative session, the Arkansas House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor passed a number of bills, including House Bill 1794, which would create the Licensed Practical Nurse Pathway Pilot program, where students in grades 9 through 12 can enroll in undergraduate courses requried to obtain a diploma or certificate of completion as a licensed practical nurse by the date they graduate. Additional bills passed this week include:

HB1776: Rewrites Arkansas' nursing home staffing laws, expand the state's definition of "direct care staff" to include medication assistants and therapists, and would strike a section setting financial penalties for nursing homes found to have a pattern of violating state staffing laws.

SB570: Dissolves the state Medical Board's current membership and split new appointments among the governor and leaders of the House and Senate. It would also add one seat to the board, for a total of 15.

SB621: Requires the Arkansas Medicaid Program and the Department of Human Services to have all consent decrees reconsidered. 

HB1427: Clarifies requirements for registry records checks and criminal background checks for in-home caregivers of medicaid beneficiaries. 

HB1723: Provides for data collection and evaluation of emergency medical care and initial time-critical diagnoses and procedures, ensures confidentiality to help improve health outcomes and prompt treatment.

HB1063: Amends the Telemedicine Act, authorizes additional reimbursement for telemedicine via telephone and declares an emergency.

SB466: Clarifies the regulation of psychiatric residential treatment facilities. 

HB1765: Amends the law concering the Division of Workforce Services, modifies the unemployment insurance program to prevent, detect and recover unemployment insurance fraud and declares an emergency. 

HB1502: Requires that clear face mask coverings be worn by certain persons if interacting with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing during certain disaster emergencies.

SB607: Modifies the requirements for a peer support specialist in the Arkansas Medicaid Program and removes a reference to the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board.

HB1797: Repals provisions of the law concerning the authority of the Child Welfare Agency Review Board to promulgate or enforce certain rules.

HB1735: Authorizes occupational or professional licensure for certain individuals.

HB1545: Updates the Arkansas Code regarding language associated with autism spectrum disorders, and allows two rather than three professionals to provide a diagnosis.

HB1141: Amends the Cemetery Act for perpetually maintained cemeteries.

HB1199: Amends the provisions concerning contracts, reports and records of pest control services.

SB505: Mandates the coprescription of an opiod antagonist under certain conditions, and amends the Naloxone Access Act. 

HB1796: Amends occupational criminal background checks.

HB1835: Amends the law concerning a residental contractor's lien notice requirement.

HB1685: Amends the Healthcare Decisions Act. 

HB1686: Amends the Arkansas Physicial order for Life-Sustaining Treatment Act.

This week's session has concluded and will resume on Monday. 

 

WEEK 11 March 29 - April 2

During this week's legislative session, the Arkansas House approved Senate Bill 410, also known as the Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me Act, which would do away with the work requirement for expanded-Medicaid recipients. Instead of a traditional work requirement, the proposed "ARHOME" plan aims to incentivze work and education through access to government subsidized private health insurance plans. Enrollees who fail to meet work or other criteria set out by the state Department of Human Services would be transferred to lower-cost traditional Medicaid plans, also known as fee-for-service.

SB590: Ends mandatory face covering requirements in the state of Arkansas and declares an emergency. 

HB1460: Creates the Workforce Freedom Act of 2021, eliminates duplicative licensing requirements at the local level, and increases economic opportunities for workers in Arkansas.

HB1068: Clarifies the Telemedicine Act, specifies that the home of a patient may be an originating site for telemedicine and that group meetings may be performed via telemedicine, and clarifies reimbursement of telemedicine services.

HB1136: Requires Hepatitis C screening during pregnancy.

SB585: Creates an electronic waste recycling program and a collection recovery plan, and provides sustainability through public participation and public and private agreements and management and accountability.

SB547: Amends certain provisions of Initiated Act 4 of 1948 and regulates a direct seller as an independent contractor.

HB1764: Exempts barbers from licensing restrictions based on criminal records.

HB1735: Authorizes occupational or professional licensure for certain individuals.

HB1776: Modernizes and strengthens nursing facility staffing standards and reporting requirements.

HB1780: Amends the laws concerning medication assistive persons and allows education programs for licensed practical nurses in certain facilities.

HB1836: Amends the Division of Environmental Quality and repeals the penalty for the knowing refusal of right of entry and inspection to Division of Environmental Quality Personnel.
SB572: Amends the Medical Corporation Act and allows a non-licensed person to be an officer, director or shareholder of a medical corporation.

HB1659: Amends the death certificate registration process for the signature of the medical certificate.

SB568: Expands the review of license applications for long-term care facilities, eliminates renewal for long-term care facility licenses and requires notification of changes in long-term care management.

HB1622: Concerns the authority of the attorney general to comply with federal regulations.

HB1623: Provides the attorney general notice and the opportunity to intervene in all qui tam lawsuits involving state funds brough under the federal false claims act.

HB1176: Ensures that the reimbursement in the Arkansas Medicaid Program for certain behavioral and mental health services provided via telemedicine continues after the public health emergency and declares and emergency.

HB1682: Authorizes colocation for outpatient behavioral healthcare agencies.

HB1723: Provides for data collection and evaluation of emergency medical care and initial time-critical diagnoses and procedures, and ensures confidentiality to help improve health outcomes and prompt treatment.

SB527: Requires abortion clinics to have written agreements with hospitals to transfer patients with "unforeseen complications" from abortion procedures, requires abortion facilities to post information regarding human trafficaking and to provide Laura's card to patients, and amends the definition of "abortion" within the Cherish Act. 

HB1572: Requires doctors performing a medication abortion to inform patients about the risks of the procedure and about "reversing the effects" if the women change their minds. 

This week's legislative session has concluded and will resume on Monday. 

 

WEEK 10 March 22 - March 26, 2021

During this week's legislative session, the Arkansas Senate passed House Bill 1258, which authorizes full independent practice authority to certified nurse practictioners who meet certain criteria. Under this bill, a practitioner must have completed a minimum of 6,240 hours of practice under a collaborative practice agreement with a physician. The Senate also voted to pass House Bill 1134, which allows pharmacists in the state to prescribe, administer, deliver, distribute and dispense vaccines to patients aged three and older. It also allows pharmacists to treat any adverse reactions to the vaccine. 

Other bills that were passed through the Public Health, Welfare and Labor committees included:

HB1254: Authorizes the Arkansas Medicaid Program to recognize an advanced practice registered nurse as a primary care provider.

HB1246: Allows pharmacists to treat certain health conditions, modifies physician dispensing and allows delegation of physician dispensing.

SB 463: Amdens the laws regarding abortion reporting and inspections of abortion facilities and requires certain documentation be presented before performing an aboriton when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

SB521: Mandates that the Arkansas Medicaid Program cover a continuous glucose monitor for an individual with diabetes.

SB514: Creates a license to authorize a company to provide skilled nursing tasks.

HB1582: Authorizes a multiyear license or registration for physicians as an option other than the annual renewal fo a license or registration.

HB1687: Amends the requirements regarding locations for geographic areas of a home healthcare services agency.

SB378: Establishes a process for emergencies in Arkansas that provide legislative input in the distribution and use of unanticipated discretionary federal funds.

HB1179: Adds an additional permanent disqualifying offense on criminal background checks for professions and occupations.

HB1659: Amends the death certificate registration process for the signature of the medical certificate.

HB1545: Updates the Arkansas code regarding language associated with autism spectrum disorders.

The legislative session has adjourned and will resume on Monday.

 

WEEK 9 March 8 - March 12, 2021

This week, during the 93rd General Assembly of the Arkansas State Legislature, the Arkansas Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor passed House Bill 1061, which creates the No Patient Left Alone Act, guaranteeing visits to lonely, pandemic-restricted patients in hospitals, nursing homes and facilities. In addition, HB1215 was passed through the Senate, which would expand the scope of practice for certified nurse midwives, allowing them to operate independently of a physician. This bill is headed back to the House for approval. 

Other public health bills that passed through the Capitol this week include:

SB85: Would require a physician or qualified technician to display ultrasound images to a pregnant woman before she gives informed consent to an abortion. This bill is now headed to the Governor.

HB1069: Would allow pharmacists to dispense birth-control pills without a prescription. This bill has passed through the Arkansas House of Represenatitives and is now headed to the Senate.

SB6: Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday, signed Senate Bill 6, which would create a near-total ban on abortions in Arkansas.

SB410: Would add incentives for work, continuing education and other activities to the state's version of Medicaid expansion, which provides largely private health coverage to low-income Arkansans. This bill has passed through the Arkansas Senate and is heading to the Governor.

HB1570: Would prohibit giving gender transition treatment, including surgery and hormone therapy, to minors in Arkansas. This bill passed through the Arkansas House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor and is now headed to the Senate committee.

HB1176: Would extend Medicaid reimbursements given during the pandemic, to continue covering mental-health services and counseling conducted using telemedicine. This bill was approved by the Senate and is headed back to the House for approval of an amendment.

HB1198: Allows certified nurse anesthetists to operate without the supervision of a doctor. This bill passed through the House and is now headed to the Senate. 

HB1512: Eliminates certain temporary exemptions to the work requirement for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This applies to "no-good-cause" exemptions that states are allowed to apply to the federal wrok requirment for food stamp recipients between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have children. This bill has passed through the House and is headed to the Senate.

SB155: Would prohibit doctors and insurance companies from denying organ transplants to people with disabilities. This bill has through the House and is now headed back to the Senate for an amendment approval. 

HB1137: Prohibits the performance of a pelvic examination on an unconscious or anesthetized patient without prior consent of the patient. This bill is headed to the Governor's office.

SB341: Amends the law concerning public employees and prohibits collective bargaining, or refusing to perform the duties of employment with a public employer when certain actions are taken.

HB1408: Amends the Advancing Women's Health Act of 2015 and requires the act to apply to funding through the Arkansas Medicaid Program. This bill is headed to the Governor.

SB387: Authorizes off-label use of drug treatments to treat Medicaid beneficiaries with pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome and pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infection. This bill is headed to the Arkansas House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.

HB1488: Amends certain provisions of Arkansas Code that resulted from Act 4 of 1948, clarifies the workers' compensation law and declares an emergency. This bill is headed to the Governor's office.

HB1521: Puts into code executive orders 20-18 and 20-34 to ensure healthcare professionals are equipped with the tools necessary to combat COVID-19 and declares an emergency. This bill is headed back to the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.

HB1450: Requires a health benefit plan to provide coverage for early refills of prescription eye drops and establishes the Arkansas Coverage for Early Refills of Prescription Eye Drops Act. This bill is headed to the Governor's office.

HB1434: Creates the Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Advisory Council and provides for the implementation of a state Alzheimer's plan. 

HB1502: Requires that clear face masks be worn by certain persons if interacting with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing during certain disaster emergencies.

HB1515: Amends the Medicaid provider-led Organized Care Act and prohibits ownership interest in more than one risk-basked provider organization.

HB1516: Permits a law enforcement officer to transport a person in crisis to a sobering center.

HB1589: Prohbits taxpayer resource transactions for abortions.

HB1548: Creates the Personal Care Medicaid Reimbursement Act and ensures an appropriate reimbursement rate for personal care services in the Arkansas Medicaid Program.

SCR5: Encourages the governor to amend Arkansas's Medicaid eligibility rules to provide access to coverage for migrant men, women and children from the compact of free association islands.

SB254: Ensures that businesses are not penalized by the Department of Helath for the behavior of their patrons or customers during the pandemic and declares an emergency.

HB1460: Creates the Workforce Freedom Act of 2021, eliminating duplicative licensing requiremnts at the local level and increases economic opportunities for workers in Arkansas.

HB1402: Amends the abortion-inducing Drugs Safety Act.

HB1623: Provides the Attorney General with notice and the opportunity to intervene in all qui tam lawsuits involving state funds brought under the federal False Claims Act.

This concludes this week's session. The General Assembly will resume on Monday.

WEEK 8 March 1 - March 5, 2021

During this week's legislative session, HB1512 passed through the Arkansas House Committee of Public Health, Welfare and Labor. This act would eliminate no-good-cause exemptions to the work requirement for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Those between the ages of 18 to 49 and who have no dependents, or other qualifying exemptions, can be subject to the Abled Body and Without Dependants (ABAWD) work requirement in order to receive their SNAP benefits.

In addition, HB1135 was passed to authorize pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines and immunizations.

Other bills passed through the House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor include:

SB299: Allows the Department of Workforce Services to share information;

HB1180: Puts into code what is standard practice for scope of practice changes that com from healthcare boards and ensures they go through the Public Health committee before they are finalized in the rule-making process;

SB344: Adds an exception from nursing licensure to allow employees of a city or county detention center to draw and measure glucagon or insulin for a person who is incarcerated or in custody; 

HB1021: Creates the first-year medical student scholarship program act, which was created to encourage Arkansas residents interested in medical school to complete their undergraduate education within three years of first enrolling in an accredited college or university in Arkansas;

HB1270: Defines the phrase "childcare institution" under the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act and requires criminal record and child maltreatment checks under the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act;

HB1154: Updates terminology and ensures compliance with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission;

HB1278: Expands the criteria for an inactive determination of a child maltreatment investigation and will allow investigators to more accurately describe the outcome of the child maltreatment investigation when the alleged offender or alleged victim cannot be located or identified;

HB1152: Creates Gabo's law, allowing emergency medical care to be provided to injured police dogs and provides immunity for those attempting to save the K-9's life;

HB1258: Creates a pathway for certified nurse practitioners who meet certain requirements to practice free from a collaborative agreement and creates a full independent practice credentialing committee;

HB1198: Removes supervision requirements from the definition of "practice of certified registered nurse anesthesia" and replaces it with 'in consultation with;'

SB6: Creates the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act and abolishes abortion in Arkansas;

SB155: Establishes Lila's Law and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities regarding access to organ transplantation;

HB1134: Allows pharmacists to prescribe, administer, deliver, distribute or dispense vaccines, immunizations and medications to treat adverse reactions to vaccines given;

HB1135: Authorizes pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines and immunizations;

HB1069: Authorizes pharmacists to provide access to and give oral contraceptives and makes changes to provisions of the Arkansas code concerning the practice of pharmacy;

HB1465: Requires licensing entities to conisder the good moral character of an individual before issuing a license to an individual;

HB1450: Requires a health benefit plan to provide coverage for early refills of prescription eye drops and establishes the Arkansas Coverage for Early Refills of Prescription Eye Drops Act;

SB258: Authorizes nonmandatory multiyear registration and licensing by the contractors licensing board;

HB1261: Makes revisions to the law concerning the state water pollution control agency, authorizes the agency to administer the section 404 permitting program of the federal Clean Water Act in lieu of the United States Army Corps of Engineers;

SB22: Modifies the application process for certification ot practice as an orthotic assistant, orthotic/prosthetic assistant, or prosthetic assistant;

SB379: Brings the legislative body into the processes for emergency declarations and directives addressing a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health, and declares an emergency;

SB378: Amends Arkansas law concerning unanticipated discretionary federal funds related to a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health and declares an emergency. 

The Arkansas legislative session has concluded and will return on Monday. 

 

 

 

WEEK 7 Feb. 15 - Feb. 19, 2021

The Arkansas legislative session reconvened this week following last week's snow storm. A number of bills and resolutions were passed through the House and Senate committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.  Among them included:

HB1137: Prohibits the performance of a pelvic exam on an unconscious patient without the prior consent of the patient;

HB1215: Grants full practice authority to certified nurse midwives;

HCR1002: Encourages continued collaboration among healthcare providers, law enforcement, educators, public officials, and the Arkansas community in battling the opioid epidemic;

HB1061: Creates the No Patient Left Alone Act, granting patients at hospitals and nursing homes the "right" to visit with family and loved ones;

SB259: Authorizes the licensure of state and local government heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration inspectors, and corrects references to the appropriate cabinet level department;

SB85: Creates the Right-To-Know-And-See-Act and amends the right to view ultrasound images before an abortion;

SCR5: Encourages the Governor to submit a state plan amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide access to coverage for migrant men, women and children from the Compact of Free Association Islands;

SB257: Amends the law concering the time for completing an investigation of suspected adult maltreatment or long-term care facility resident maltreatment; 

HB1117: Authorizes emergency medical services personnel to administer certain emergency prescription medications to a patient who has a specific health condition; 

HB1351: Concerns the use of certain chemicals in firefighting foam;

SB88: Updates the composition of the Arkansas Board of Hearing Instrument Dispensers;

HB1259: Amends the Arkansas Athletic Trainers Act and authorizes athletic trainers to practice under the direct supervision of a physician; 

HB1488: Amends certain provisions of Arkansas Code that resulted from initiated Act 4 of 1948; to clarify the Workers' Compensation Law, and declare emergency;

HB1521: Codifies executive orders 20-18 and 20-34 to ensure healthcare professionals are equipped with the tools necessary to combat COVID-19 and to declares an emergency.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 5 Feb. 8 - Feb. 12, 2021

During this week's Legislative session, the Arkanas House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor met once due to inclement weather; however, several bills were passed through the House and Senate committees. Among them includes:

SB6: Would create the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act and abolish abortion in Arkansas;

HB1155: Established to remove the barriers to relase data in the Arkanas Center Cancer Registry to qualified cancer researchers;

HCR1002: A resolution designed to continue the fight on the opioid crisis through continued collaboration with health care providers, law enforcement, educators, public officials and the Arkansas community;

HB1322: Would increase the timeline for embalming a dead body in the state from 24 hours to 48;

SB143: Ensures that the beneficiaries of the Arkansas Medicaid Program have access to new products and label expansions approved by the FDA, and creates the Rare Disease Advisory Council;

SB254: Created so that businesses are not penalized by the Department of Health for the behavior of their patrons or customers during the current pandemic;

SB289: Creates the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act for people of faith working in the medical field;

SB240: Adds exemptions to the law concerning nonmunicipal domestic sewage treatment works;

HB1063: Ensures that the Telemedicine Act becomes law and stays in tact after the COVID-19 pandemic ends;

HB1067: Creates the Arkansas Breast Milk Bank and creates the Breast Milk Bank Special Fund;

HB78: Establishes Arkanas' occupational licensing of uniformed service members, veterans and spouses act of 2021;

HB1140: Revises the law concerning embalmers and funeral directors, allowing instruction to happen virtually;

HB1261: Amends the law concerning the state Water Pollution Control Agency, authorizes the agency to administer the Section 404 Permitting Program of the Federal Clean Water Act in lieu of the US Army Corps of Engineers;

HB1154: Amends and updates the Arkansas Code regarding regulation of ionizing radiation to comply with federal laws and regulations.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Tuesday.

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WEEK 4 Feb. 1 - Feb. 5, 2021

Sticking around

The Arkansas House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor this week passed House Bill (HB) 1176, ensuring that reimbursement will continue for certain behavioral and mental health services, provided by telemedicine through the Arkansas Medicaid program, after the current public health emergency.

In addition to this bill, several others were passed through the House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor. Among them included:

SB189: Makes edits regarding the assessment fee and program on medical transportation providers within the Arkansas Medicaid Progam and declares an emergency;

SB212: Creates the Arkansas PANS/PANDAS advisory council (PANS-Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, and PANDAS-Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections), and declares an emergency;

SB99: Regulates step therapy protocols which often require patients to try one or more prescription drugs before coverage is provided for a drug selected by the patient’s healthcare provider;

HB1107: Amends the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act;

HB1174: Eliminates the Nursing Home Consultant Pharmacist Permit and the disease state management credential;

HB1227: Amends the Minimum Wage Act of the State of Arkansas; and amends the section regarding relief from liability for employers that impacts portions of the law resulting from intiated Act 5 of 2018;

HB1195: Creates the Every Mom Matters Act, providing healthcare support to pregnant women in Arkansas to help stablize families and reduce the number of abortions performed in the state;

HB1003: Amends and updates the law regarding indivduals who are deaf or hard of hearing, ensures respectful language is used regarding these individuals and removes the term "hearing impaired;"

HB1212: Amends the Division of Workforce Services law, concerns the noncharge of employer contributions for certain unemployment insurance claims and declares and emergency;

HB1322: Revises the timeline for embalming a dead body in the state;

SB21: Excludes mill scale and slag from the definition of "solid waste" in the Arkansas Solid Waste Management and Recycling Fund Act, and adds a definition for "mill scale and slag,"

HB1068: Clarifies the Telemedicine Act, specifies that the home of a patient may be an originating site for telemedicine and that group meetings may be performed via telemedicine, and clarifies reimbursment of telemedicine services;

HB1188: Concerns exemptions to the private security agency, private investigator and School Security Licensing and Credentialing Act;

HB1118: Enables Cottage Food production to sell their food items online from their own website.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 3 Jan. 25 – Jan. 29, 2021

As the Arkansas Legislative session progressed, several bills were passed through the Arkansas House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor. Among those were:

HB1195: Creates the Every Mom Matters Act that is designed to provide healthcare support to pregnant women in Arkansas, stabilize families and reduce the number of abortions performed in the state.

HB1180: Designed to specify a process of review of rules regarding scope of practice of healthcare professionals.

HB1227: Would amend the Minimum Wage Act of the State of Arkansas and amend the section regarding relief from liability for employers that impacts portions of the law resulting from initiated Act 5 of 2018.

HB1155: Would remove barriers to the release of data in the Arkansas Central Cancer Registry to qualified cancer researchers

HB1003: Amends and updates the laws regarding individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, ensures respectful language is used regarding individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and removes the term “hearing impaired.”

SB21: Created to exclude mill scale and slag from the definition of “solid waste” in the Arkansas Solid Waste Management Act and the Solid Waste Management and Recycling Fund Act, and adds a definition for “mill scale and slag.”

SB84: Amends the law concerning the notice and publication requirements of lists of abandoned properties.

SB155: Establishes Lila’s Law and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities regarding access to organ transplantation.

The state Legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

 

WEEK 2 Jan 18 - Jan. 22, 2021

Following several introductions, three bills and a resolution were passed through the Senate and House Committees of Public Health, Welfare and Labor this week. Those passed included:

House Bill (HB 1107), a measure that would amend the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Act and require prescribers and/or dispensers to provide physical copies of written or electronic prescriptions upon request to validate date submitted to the program in order to evaluate the information reported;

HB 1174, which would eliminate the nursing home consultant pharmacist permit and the disease state management credential;

Senate Bill (SB 99), a bill established to regulate step therapy protocols and

HCR 1002, a resolution to encourage continued collaboration among healthcare providers, law enforcement, educators, public officials and the Arkansas community in battling the abuse of prescription drugs in Arkansas.

The regular session of the 93rd General Assembly has concluded for the week and will resume on Monday, Jan. 25.

 

WEEK 12 April 1 - April 5 

No word on lethal injections

The Arkansas House this week passed Senate Bill 464, a measure that would allow the Arkansas Department of Correction to keep secret nearly all records related to its supply of lethal injection drugs, including any records that could possibly identify the companies that manufactured the drugs. The bill would also make it a felony to “recklessly disclose” any records or the identities of execution drugmakers. This bill is now headed to the governor.

From dreams to reality

The Arkansas Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor cleared House Bill 1552, which now heads to the governor. HB1552 would make nursing licenses available to Arkansans who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

As the legislative session nears it’s close, an abundance of bills are being passed through the public health committees, and then on to the House and Senate. Among those this week included:

House Bill (HB) 1440: The state Department of Health would be directed to create the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to report annual findings to the legislature. This bill was passed through the House and Senate.

HB 1441: Creates the Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Quality Review Committee within the Department of Health to report findings annually to the legislature. This bill is headed to the full Senate.

HB 1491: Requires the Department of Human Services to eliminate the Developmental Disabilities Waiver waiting list within three years using all available funding streams. This bill is headed to the full Senate.

HB 1641: Authorizes the Department of Education in coordination with the Department of Health to enforce rules relating to scoliosis screenings in schools. This bill was passed through the House and Senate.

HB 1775: Creates a work requirement for SNAP recipients, requiring the Department of Human Services to require adults who do not have dependents under six years of age to participate in an employment and training program. This bill is now headed to the full Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 99: Allocates funds to the state’s Medicaid program and grants another year of spending authority, starting July 1, for the programs that benefit more than 882,000 Arkansans who receive their health insurances through the traditional Medicaid and the state’s “private option” expansion. This bill is now headed to the governor.

SB 278: Increases the state’s abortion-waiting period from 48 to 72 hours. Doctors must give descriptive information about the procedure, medical risks, available medical assistance and child-support rights to the patient before he or she can perform an abortion. This bill is headed to the governor.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 11 March 25 - March 29 

More where that came from

Under House Bill 1569, public schools would be able to distribute excess food left over from breakfast and lunch to students within guidelines and in compliance with USDA standards. The measure was passed through the Senate and now heads to the governor.

Work it out

SNAP recipients who are younger than 60 and have no dependents or whose children are at least six would be required to participate in an employment and training program under House Bill 1775. This “able-bodied” requirement would affect about 50,000 SNAP recipients. The measure was passed through the House and is now headed to the Senate.

Other bills introduced or presented during the legislative session this week include:

House Bill (HB) 1345: Would allow firefighters to retire early if they are disabled by cancer. The bill is now headed to the governor.

HB 1664: Would require the Department of Health to implement a program that encourages, through direct services, referrals, or social services case management, childbirth as an alternative to abortion. The bill was passed through the House and is now headed to the Senate.

HB 1731: States that the Department of Human Services must require custodial parents and noncustodial parents to cooperate with the Office of Child Support Enforcement to be eligible for the SNAP. The bill was passed through the House and is headed to the Senate.

HB 1773: Would give Arkansas firefighters six months of sick leave if they develop cancer related to their work. The measure was approved in a House vote and is now headed to the Senate.

HB 1801: Would require the Arkansas Medicaid Program to cover the cost of one additional albuterol inhaler annually in the month of August for those under the age of 18. The bill was passed through the House and is now headed to the Senate.

HB 1856: Would prevent the state from consenting or expending funds to allow a woman in state custody from getting an abortion. HB1856 passed through the House and is now headed to the Senate.

HB 1861: Would require establishments that sell alcoholic beverages to post signs warning of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy. The bill was passed through the House and is headed to the Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 2: Would outlaw abortions based solely on the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The measure passed through the House and was sent to the governor.

SB 99: Would authorize the use of $8.15 billion in state and federal funds for the Department of Human Services’ Division of Medical Services. The bill was passed through the Senate and is now headed to the House.

SB 252: Would require insurance companies to cover certain treatments for pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal syndrome. The bill was passed through the Senate and is now headed to the House.

Senate Bill 448: Would require that doctors performing abortions be board-certified, or eligible for such certification in obstetrics and gynecology. The bill was passed through the House and is now headed to the governor.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 10 March 18 - March 22

Catch a Lyft

Medicaid recipients who use ride-sharing applications such as Uber and Lyft to get to appointments would be able to have their trips reimbursed under House Bill 1435.The Arkansas Medicaid Program is required to reimburse the fee when beneficiary is transported to a healthcare facility or the office of a healthcare professional.

Down syndrome abortion restricted

The Senate this week approved Senate Bill 2, which would require a doctor to ask a woman seeking an abortion if she is aware of any test results, prenatal diagnosis or any other reason the unborn child may have Down syndrome. Exceptions include if an abortion is necessary to “save the life or preserve the health of the unborn child or the pregnant woman,” to remove a dead unborn child after a miscarriage or to remove an ectopic pregnancy. The bill also contains exceptions for cases of rape or incest. If the woman answers yes to the questions, then the doctor must request the medical records relating directly to her entire pregnancy history. A doctor who attempts or goes ahead with the abortion would have his medical license revoked and would be guilty of a Class D felony, which is punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Oh SNAP!

Bills that would expand the state food stamp program’s work requirement, require recipients to cooperate in child-support collection efforts and bar them from using their benefits to buy certain kinds of junk food cleared a House committee on Tuesday. House Bill 1775 would make an education and training program mandatory for about 50,000 food stamp recipients: those age 50-60 and those who have dependent children who are all at least 6 years old. House Bill 1731 would disqualify parents from the program who refuse to cooperate with the state in establishing paternity of a child and seeking a court order for child support. Parents who pay child support would also have to stay up to date on their payments. House Bill 1743 would bar participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from using their benefits to buy candy, soft drinks, energy drinks or dietary supplements. The three bills will now go to the full House.

Other bills introduced or presented during the legislative session this week include:

HB1251: Would allow optometrists to perform a broader range of eye surgeries, including removing bumps and lesions from the eyelids and perform certain types of surgery. The bill cleared a Senate committee and is now headed to the full Senate.

HB1523: Would prohibit jailers from shackling women while they are giving birth. Exemptions of the bill are for those who are deemed to be at flight risk or threaten the safety of their babies, staff members and the public. This bill was passed through the Senate.

HB1555: Would increase the products available to those trying to stop smoking. All seven tobacco-cessation products approved by the FDA would be made available to Arkansans on Medicaid without prior authorization. The bill was passed through the full House.

HB1565: Would use funds raised from new tobacco and medical-marijuana taxes to help UAMS in its bid for a National Cancer Institute designation. The bill was approved by the full Senate and is now headed to the full House.

HB1656: Would eliminate barriers to treating opioid addiction. The bill states that health insurers, including Medicaid, can’t require physicians to get permission from the insurer to prescribe certain medications used to treat opioid addictions. The bill also states that the charge for medication-assisted treatment should be “on the lowest-cost benefit tier” of an insurer’s payment schedule.

HB1737: Would raise the rate for public water systems from 30 cents to 40 cents a month to pay for required testing and upgrades at the state’s Department of Health. The bill passed through the House Committee on City, County and Local Affairs.

SB278: Would lengthen a woman’s “reflection period” from 48 to 72 hours before she has an abortion Live births would have to be reported from clinics to the state Department of Health. Doctors who perform these abortions would be required to provide women with a description of the procedure, medical risks, available medical assistance and their child-support rights, with that information being given 72 hours before performing the abortion, except in the case of emergency. The bill was approved by the Senate.

SB440: Would prohibit cultivation facilities and dispensaries from making marijuana products in the form of food items that are attractive to and commonly targeted at children. This bill is now headed to the full House.

SB441: Would place restrictions on advertising, including barring ads that target children. This bill is headed to the full House.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 9 March 11 - March 15

Smoker’s tax increase to fund cancer facility

The Senate Revenue and Tax Committee approved House Bill 1565, which would increase taxes on e-cigarettes, cigarette paper, and medical marijuana sales. The new revenue would raise about $10.5 million a year to be placed in the UAMS National Cancer Institute Trust Fund to help bring a National Cancer Institute designated facility to Arkansas. HB1565 is now headed to the full Senate.

Free to push

The Arkansas House passed House Bill 1523, which would prohibit jailers from using shackles on women while they are giving birth. The bill includes exemptions for prisoners who are determined to be at flight risk, or who threaten the safety of their baby, staff or the public. HB1523 also requires feminine products and undergarments that are suitable for the detainees.

Other bills that were introduced or presented during the legislative session this week include:

House Bill (HB) 1220: Would allow health care providers to offer diagnoses over the phone to patients they have never seen in person or via a video connection. The healthcare professional must have access to the patient’s medical history before providing a diagnosis, and be of the opinion that the standard of care can be met. HB1220 is now headed to the full House.

HB 1439: Would outlaw abortions after 18 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy except in medical emergencies and in cases of rape or incest. The bill cleared the full House and is now headed to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

HB1552: Would allow individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to obtain nursing licenses. The bill passed through the full House and is now headed to the full Senate.

HB1712: Would give the public access to state records related to home health care agencies. The bill was passed through the full House and is now headed to the full Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 178: Would allow athletic trainers to treat patients who are not involved in organized athletic activities.  The bill was passed through the Senate’s public health committee.

SB 440: Would prohibit cultivation facilities and dispensaries from making marijuana products in the form of food items that are attractive to children or commonly marketed toward them. This bill is now headed to the full Senate.

SB 441: Would place advertising restrictions on medical marijuana, including banning ads targeting children. The bill was passed through the Senate’s public health committee and is now headed to the full Senate.

SB 443: Would require diaper changing accommodations in public places. The changing facilities must be equally available to all genders. The bill will apply to restrooms constructed on or after the effective date of the bill, which is now headed to the full House.

SB 446: Would exempt almost all documents related to the state’s execution drugs from public records requests. The Senate approved the bill, and it is now headed to the House.

SB 448: Would require doctors to have certain qualifications before performing abortions; meaning physicians must be board-certified, or eligible for such certification, in obstetrics and gynecology. SB448 is now headed to the full House.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 8 March 4 - March 8

DACA students get green light

House Bill 1552 received a unanimous ‘do pass’ vote by the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor. The bill would allow Deferred Action For Children Arrival recipients to obtain nursing licenses in Arkansas. Rep. Megan Godfrey, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the bill would keep those students from having to move to Oklahoma or other states that award licenses to DACA recipients.

Pharmacy advised birth control

Initially, the Arkansas House rejected House Bill 1290, which would give pharmacists the authority to dispense birth-control bills to customers who lack a prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner. The ‘no’ vote on Monday was wiped out, and the bill was run again on Tuesday. The bill cleared the House and is now headed to the Senate.

Other bills that passed through the House, Senate and House and Senate committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor included:

House Bill (HB) 1251: Would allow optometrists to perform a broader range of eye surgeries. Operations included in the bill would allow optometrists to administer injections around people’s eyes, remove bumps and lesions from eyelids, and perform certain types of laser surgeries. The bill was approved by the House and will now head to the Senate.

HB1263: Would allow pharmacists to dispense nicotine replacement products under a statewide protocol. Allowing pharmacists to dispense these products would allow customers to pay for them through their insurance coverage. HB1263 is now headed to the full Senate.

HB1267: Would extend the prescriptive authority to Schedule II drugs for an advanced practice nurse who has completed 2,000 hours of practice. HB1267 is now headed to the full House.

HB1278: Would allow pharmacists to administer childhood vaccines to children 7 and older under a physician’s written protocol. The bill’s sponsor said extending this authority would help improve the state’s immunization rates and prevent disease outbreaks. HB1278 is now headed to the full Senate.

HB1439: Would reduce the amount of time during a pregnancy in which an abortion is allowed, with an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. If rape or incest does occur, abortions are barred after 20 weeks. HB1439 would ban doctors from performing an abortion on a woman more than 18 weeks after the first day of the woman’s last period, shortening the time allowed for abortions by about four weeks. The bill is now headed to the full Senate.

HB1565: Would raise about $10.5 million from new tobacco and medical marijuana tax revenue to help the state’s medical school attain National Cancer Institute designation. HB1565 would dedicate receipts from the sales and special privilege taxes on medical marijuana, increasing the required marking up on cigarettes; and adding an additional 50-cent tax on packs of cigarette paper. The bill would also increase the minimum tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21 by 2021. The bill was passed through the House and is now headed to the full Senate for approval. 

HB1621: Would require school programs on sex, drug use and other risky behaviors to emphasize “risk avoidance” strategies rather than “risk reduction.” HB1621 will now head to the full House.

Senate Bill (SB) 174: Would require opioid and narcotic prescriptions be sent through the Internet by 2021. The bill was sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

SB464: Would exempt almost all documents related to the state’s execution drugs from public records requests. SB464 is now headed to the full Senate.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 7 Feb. 25 - March 1 

Take it to the House

Bills allowing pharmacists to dispense birth-control pills and stop-smoking products and to administer vaccines to children age 7 or older – all without a doctor’s prescription – cleared a House committee on Thursday. House Bill 1290 would allow pharmacists who complete a training program approved by the state Board of Pharmacy to dispense oral contraceptives to women who are 18 or older; House Bill 1263 would allow pharmacists to prescribe tobacco cessation products under a similar statewide protocol; and House Bill 1278 would allow pharmacists to administer childhood vaccines to children age 7 and older under a written protocol by a physician. These three bills are now headed to the full House.

Tobacco kick

House Bill 1519 was passed through the House Rules Committee on Wednesday. The bill would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco, vapor, alternative nicotine or e-liquid products in Arkansas from 18 to 21, unless they have military IDs. If the bill becomes law, it would make Arkansas the eighth state to raise the minimum tobacco age. Two cities – Harrison and Helena-West Helena – have already raised the tobacco-buying age to 21.

There were several other bills that passed through the House, Senate and  House and Senate committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor this week, including:

HB1014: Would require public high schools to provide bleeding-control training as part of the health course. The bill is now headed to the governor.

HB1439: Would limit abortions to within an 18-week window during pregnancy. According to a reporter, the text of the bill would also change the state’s calculations for gestation and potentially narrow the window for abortions by four weeks. HB1439 is now headed to the Senate.

HB1491: Would set a three-year deadline for the state to serve the more than 3,000 developmentally disabled Arkansans who are now on a waiting list for home and community-based services. This bill is now headed to the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.

SB174: Would require prescriptions for controlled substances such as opioids and narcotics be moved to a paperless system. Sen. Kim Hammer said this bill would reduce the opportunity for fraud and is a response to the nation’s opioid epidemic. The bill cleared the Senate and is now headed to the House.

SB347: Would require doctors to provide written notice to women who are going through drug-induced abortions that the procedures can be stopped. “It may be possible to reverse its intended effect if the second pill or tablet has not been administered,” according to the written notice required under the bill. “If you change your mind and wish to continue the pregnancy, you can locate immediate help by searching the term ‘abortion pill reversal’ on the Internet.” The bill was passed through the Senate and is now headed to the full House.

SB 380: Clarifies which insurance providers are required to cover optional breast testing such as 3-D mammography and breast ultrasound testing. Under this bill, the requirement would not apply to non-health insurance policies that cover on specific needs, such as accident or disability, liability, worker’s compensation, dental and vision and automobile insurance. This bill was approved by the legislative committee.

The state legislature has dismissed and will return on Monday.

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WEEK 6 Feb. 18 - 22

One phone call away

House Bill 1220 was introduced to the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor this week. The premise of the bill was to allow health care providers to offer a diagnosis over the phone to patients they have never seen in person. House Bill 1220 would’ve amended a 2017 law requiring a professional relationship to be established through more than just an audio-visual phone call before a provider can treat a patient using telemedicine. HB12 failed to clear the legislative committee.