Important health, human services bills still alive in legislature

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed 28 bills that survived the first funnel. Below are some of the important bills that advanced to expand access to health care and child care throughout the state.

Medical malpractice – House File 161 has been signed by the governor. This bill limits the total amount of noneconomic damages for a medical malpractice claim at $2 million for causes of action involving a hospital, and at $1 million for all other causes of action. This bill does maintain an existing limit in law for noneconomic damages at $250,000 when there has not been a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, substantial disfigurement, loss of pregnancy or death. This bill does not limit non-economic or punitive damages. Iowa joins 28 states that have limited noneconomic or total damages, and this bill will help recruit and retain physicians to Iowa.

Mental health non-competes – House File 93 prohibits non-compete agreements with mental health providers, insuring Iowans can continue to see their mental health providers.

Psychologist prescribing – House File 183 removes the requirement that a psychologist complete certain requirements within five years of being issued a conditional prescription certificate, removing a barrier to additional mental health prescribers in Iowa.

Rural emergency hospitals – Senate File 75 establishes licensure for rural emergency hospitals as established by federal law. These health care facilities maintain a 24-hour emergency room, but do not include acute inpatient care. Maternal health – House File 427 comes from the governor to address access to maternal health care in Iowa. The bill does the following:

• Doubling the number of regional centers of excellence programs in Iowa

• Adding four annual family medicine obstetric fellowships every year

• Creates a statewide standing order to allow pharmacists to dispense initially three-months of an oral hormonal contraceptive, hormonal vaginal ring, or a hormonal contraceptive patch, and then subsequent year supplies, to patients 18 years and older. The woman must complete a self-screening risk assessment and blood pressure check prior to being dispensed the contraceptive.

• Adds $1.5 million to the More Options for Maternal Support Program and allows for funds to be used to support fatherhood initiatives.

• Increases the allowable expense for nonrecurring legal fees from $500 to $1,000 per child for reasonable, necessary costs directly related to the legal adoption of a child eligible for Iowa’s adoption subsidy program.

• Expands opportunities for foster care students under the All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship Program

Child care physicals – House File 319 strikes the requirement that all personnel in a registered child care provider must have a physical prior to beginning employment. Generally speaking, employers require physicals for the employees. This is the only physical exam Iowa requires in code.

Child care assistance for child care workers – House File 343 sets up a two-year pilot program allowing children of persons employed full-time at a child care facility to be eligible for state child care assistance.

State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, represents Fort Dodge and part of Webster County.


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