As the first funnel deadline has passed, this week has been full of debates on the House floor. Many of the bills have been non-contentious, exemplifying the bipartisan cooperation that can sometimes be overlooked in politics. I floor-managed two bills this week, one which would allow Iowa-based motor carriers to continue to administer their own CDL skills testing in their training programs. The other bill would would create a text-messaging service that would inform Iowans of important updates relating to citations, as well as allowing them to pay those citations through their phone. You can watch me address my fellow members of the House here: CDL and Texts.
Tackling the Opioid Crisis
In the past week, Iowa House Republicans have unveiled priority legislation to combat Iowa’s opioid epidemic and to improve the state’s mental health system. HF 2299 passed the House Human Resources Committee on Tuesday 21-0. This comprehensive legislation prevents doctor shopping for opioids, reduces overprescribing, and provides support to Iowans suffering from opioid addiction by:
- Funding the new state-of-the-art Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which will have the ability to integrate with electronic health records and provide immediate access to information
- Requiring prescribers to register for the PMP and use the PMP when prescribing controlled substances
- Requiring electronic prescribing to eliminate fraud
- Requiring pharmacies to report to the PMP within 24 hours
- Allowing proactive notification to providers so they can recognize patients at a high risk for opioid abuse and addiction
- Allowing penalties to be assessed by licensing boards for providers overprescribing
- Providing prescriber education on opioids
- Prohibiting addictive prescriptions from being filled more than six months after the date prescribed and from being refilled
- Requiring first responders to report to the PMP if they administer an opioid antagonist
- Providing immunity from liability to a person calling 911 to seek help for a drug overdose and for the person experiencing the overdose, with exceptions for drug dealers and repeat offenders
Providing Health Care for Families of the Fallen
On Thursday, a bill was presented on the House floor that would require the government to continue to provide health care coverage to the spouse and children of police officers that were killed in the line of duty. The bill provides that a child of a fallen officer shall be provided coverage with the full cost paid by the city, county, or state that employed the officer until the child reaches the age of 26. The bill also provides that the surviving spouse of a fallen officer shall be provided coverage with the full cost paid by the city, county, or state that employed the officer until the date the surviving spouse becomes eligible for coverage under Medicare.
I am proud to have voted in favor of this legislation and am happy to write that the bill passed with unanimous, bipartisan approval within the House. These families have endured the ultimate sacrifice, and by no means does this bill make them whole again, but we hope that it will make their lives a little bit better and a little bit easier.
You can find the full text of the bill here: HF 2351.
Updates on Appropriations
Budget adjustments are sometimes necessary in Iowa, seeing as we have a constitutional provision for a balanced budget. We held a public hearing on Monday to hear from people about these adjustments. We heard from people both supportive of the actions we took, and those who were critical. One of the positives from the bill is that we included a provision for GEMT reimbursement. Basically, the Department of Human Services must request authorization to be able to draw down federal medicaid dollars to help offset the costs of providing emergency ambulance and transports for medicaid patients. You can see the original bill I filed with Representative Breckenridge here.
Separate from the budget bill language, the bill also passed on the floor of the house, meaning it will proceed either in the budget bill language or when our bill makes it through the Senate. Either way- I ensured we are moving the process forward to help our local municipalities and EMS providers.