As we turn our calendar pages to July and officially start the beginning of summer, seven states and the District of Columbia are still in session. Thousands of bills have been introduced across the country, making the 2019 session one for the books. Although we cannot predict the future, these are hot topics that politicians and legislators are continuing to discuss.
Electronic prescribing, or E- prescribing, of controlled substances has been gaining popularity across the country. As the opioid epidemic remains front and center for most state legislatures, 2019 was no exception as 25 states now require e-prescribe.
So, which states passed e-prescribe legislation? Beginning in 2021, all Florida prescribers will be required to use electronic prescriptions for patients, regardless of drug class according to HB831 that was signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in May. In March, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin singed bill HB 342 which requires all prescriptions for controlled substances be electronically submitted starting January 1, 2021.
First Responder Coverage
This year, a flurry of first responder bills have been introduced from east to west. When it comes to first responder-related legislation, the focus is on two areas: cancer presumptions and mental health coverage. As of today, 32 states cover PTSD and mental health, while 41 states cover occupational cancer under workers’ comp for first responders.
The Texas Firefighters Cancer Presumption Bill, SB 2551, expands the list of presumed cancers under workers’ comp for first responders and imposes penalties on municipalities that deny legitimate claims. The bill was heavily negotiated during its ride through the House and Senate, but finally saw victory.
Just like Texas, New Jersey is awaiting the final pass from Governor Phil Murphy on S716 that will be the broadest cancer presumption law. If passed it would allow any cancer caused by a “known carcinogen” to be presumed work related when diagnosed in an individual who is currently serving as a firefighter, or who has served as one in the past, including volunteer and part-time firefighters. Connecticut, Nevada, Montana, and Mississippi all have enacted bills expanding laws for first responders this year. North Carolina also has a first responder bill NH 622 that is projected to pass before the end of session.
Medical Marijuana is currently legal in 33 states, as well as the District of Columbia, and although it has gained notoriety over the last few years in several states, Hawaii’s HB 1534 surprising failed even though it was projected to pass. HB 1534 would have mandated workers’ comp insurers in Hawaii to cover the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of injured workers. This bill faced complications as marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.
Opioids are not a new topic, but we continue to see bills trying to tackle the epidemic. This year, Rhode Island’s SB 304 considered a bill to establish fill limits, while Georgia’s SB 121 looked at expanding the use of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to track opioid scripts.
Although there were many victories in 2019, another year went by with Missouri passing their PDMP bill – making them the only state in the country without a statewide monitoring program. First responder coverage and e-prescribing trends were two that we will surely see carried over in 2020, but what else should we expect on the workers’ comp front? Only time will tell.