November 30, 2018

States Gear Up for 2019 Legislative Sessions

All 50 state legislatures will meet in 2019 with many starting their longer legislative cycle in the odd-numbered year. In the states without carry-over, any bill that died in 2018 will have to be re-introduced.

During 2017 ‘long’ session year, state legislatures had almost 150,000 bills introduced across 50 states, with only about 32 percent being enacted into law. We can expect a similar number of bills to be introduced in 2019 session, especially with party-related changes in state chambers from the November mid-term elections.

Several states already begun to pre-file bills, and many more states will accept proposals in December and January to meet stipulated pre-filing deadlines. Legislators in Texas have already pre-filed hundreds of bills in anticipation of the 2019 session. Six state legislatures -- California, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Idaho and Wisconsin -- do not allow legislation pre-filing. In these states, all bills are submitted only after the legislature convenes.

Of particular interest to radiology, last year’s workers’ compensation statute overhaul in Kentucky resulted in a negative provision signed into law. The provision authorizes only pulmonary specialists to read X-rays for pneumoconiosis (black lung disease) in workers’ compensation cases most likely involving coal mine workers.

The restriction effectively banned radiologists from serving as B-readers to interpret such studies. According to a media report, just six pulmonologists in Kentucky are federally certified to read black lung X-rays, and three of them are routinely hired by coal companies or their insurers.

To remedy the situation, two Kentucky legislators have introduced preliminary legislation to strip the layered provision and specifying instead that B-readers in Kentucky would be “duly qualified physicians.” The legislation, BR 163, is sponsored by Reps. Angie Hatton (D) and Robert Goforth (R) and seeks to remove the requirement that B-readers must be a board-certified pulmonary specialist in addition to being licensed in Kentucky. If the legislation is passed in to law during 2019 session, the new law would go into effect July 1, 2019.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) can now be even more responsive assist its state affiliates about legislative matters by sending targeted calls-to-action (CTA) alerts to the state level. By working with CQ Engage, we can help you customize alerts to target specific committees or state legislators in specific districts.

Accuracy and coordination with local efforts are of utmost importance, and we ask that the alerts be vetted and endorsed by state radiological societies before their transmission.

Please contact Melody Ballesteros to learn more about this feature.

The ACR state affairs staff serves as a resource for important issues including scope of practice, surprise/balance/out of network billing (OON), price transparency, physician reimbursement, teleradiology, state licensure, and medical liability reform.

Please contact Eugenia Brandt or Tina Getachew with your questions about state legislative or state regulatory topics.