Legislature closure drawing near
The 2016 WV Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Saturday, March 12, after meeting
for 60 days. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin sent a message to the House of Delegates
and Senate yesterday, advising them he was extending the session for three days so
the two houses could reach an agreement on the 2017 budget. If they cannot agree
within that time frame the Governor will have to call a special session at a later date.
Declines in coal and natural gas severance tax revenues are major contributors to
budget woes faced by lawmakers.
Supplemental appropriations have been approved by the Legislature to pay Medicaid
expenses through this fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. Medicaid expenditures are
expected to climb to $3.7 billion this year, up from $3.1 billion last year. The 2017
Medicaid budget is expected to be $4.1 billion, according to budget presentations
made by agency officials to the House and Senate finance committees. The growth
in expenses is primarily attributed to adding over 160,000 people to the program
during the expansion in 2014 and 2015. Over 550,000 are not covered.
Supported by WVDA and passed by the Legislature is Senate Bill 7, known as the
“wrongful conduct rule.” This new law prohibits a person from suing dentists and
other practitioners for prescribing drugs which lead to the person’s addiction and
subsequent criminal activities. In part, the new law negates a WV Supreme Court
of Appeals decision allowing 29 admitted addicts to sue their health care providers
for prescribing and dispensing them controlled substances which “fueled” their
addiction and criminal acts. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the legislation.
Dentists may access the WV Controlled Substance Monitoring Program (CSMP)
when writing a prescription for a controlled substance, especially for a new patient
or when they have concern about a patient’s use of medications. The Legislature
passed a law this year, fining practitioners for not being registered on the CSMP,
as required by Senate Bill 437 passed in 2012. Registration with the CSMP can
be made by calling the Board of Pharmacy 304-558-0558.
Efforts by the House Government Organization Committee to increase the number
of consumers on the Board of Dentistry to eight (8) failed to materialize. WVDA
opposed the proposal.