Workforce Development & Workplace Safety - Chairman
Joint Committee on Child Abuse & Neglect - Vice-Chair
Professional Registration & Licensing
Subcommittee on Child Abuse Reporting & Investigating - Chairman
Issue Development Standing Committee on Cowboy Caucus on Agricultural Issues
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We started our week with a Workforce Committee hearing on two Right to Work bills. They were very different bills with one of them designed to seek voter approval and apply to the entire state and the other would be voted on county by county. There were quite a few people present to testify on both sides of the issue and I'm sure everyone went away with a lot more knowledge about the subject. We have now heard six different versions of the bill and have voted several out of committee. Last year the Speaker assured the caucus that we would vote on a bill proposal this session. He and the Lt. Governor have been very vocal in their support of putting the question on the ballot. My job has been to see that the bills get a hearing and that all of the interested parties have a fair chance to voice their opinions. I think we have accomplished that goal and soon we will pose the question to the General Assembly.
We did quite a bit of floor work this past week. We passed a measure on Tort Reform that is intended to place caps on the amounts courts could award for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. In 2005, when similar legislation was passed, doctors stopped leaving our state and the cost of healthcare decreased. The Supreme Court struck down that decision in 2012 and the result was that malpractice insurance soared and costs increased. Doctors again began leaving for neighboring states where their costs were more manageable. Unlimited court awards are unfair to everyone. As you can well imagine, there was quite a bit of push back from Trial Lawyers, but the bill was passed and sent to the Senate.
Monday was a Technical Session due to Washington's Birthday but there were a lot of people at the Capitol for meetings later in the week. The Anesthesiologists were there for a hearing on Wednesday that would expand nurses' scope of practice. I am in support of giving Nurse Practitioners additional responsibilities. There just aren't any Doctors entering the field of General Practice. There are a lot of reasons for this. Probably the primary reason is that it is very hard for them to make as much money as Doctors who specialize. With the increased costs of Medical School and Malpractice Insurance, and the decreased revenues due to low Medicaid reimbursements, we are losing GP's at an alarming rate. In order for those of us in rural areas to have access to Primary Health Care, we are going to have to depend more and more on Clinics staffed by Nurse Practitioners. With the technical assistance available today, a Nurse Practitioner can instantly transfer vital signs, X rays, EKG's and even let a Doctor see and talk to a patient via internet. I am convinced that, done properly, one can get quality primary healthcare in these types of clinics and have the added advantage of cost savings.