By Matthew Young, WV Press News Sharing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Senate’s Health and Human Resources Committee met on Tuesday with a total of six bills on the agenda. All but one of those bills are intended to improve public access to professional medical and safety services.
The sixth bill seeks to repeal “outdated sections of code” pertaining to such services. Should HB 4060, sponsored by Del. Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell, pass the full Senate, the coalitions for Diabetes Management and Responsible Pain Management, as well as the State Advisory Coalition on Palliative Care, would be dissolved.
Chairman Sen. Michael J. Maroney, R-Marshall, opened the meeting, then called for Counsel Cindy Dellinger to provide an explanation of the committee’s substitute for SB 274, which relates “to the number of child protective service workers in counties.” The bill was originally presented on Jan. 14 by lead-sponsor Charles Trump IV, R-Morgan.
“The bill requires the secretary of DHHR to allocate CPS workers in counties according to the population based on the 2020 census, that was the bill as introduced,” Dellinger stated. “There is a committee substitute that replaces the proposed language and requires the secretary of the DHHR to annually report the allotted CPS workers by the Bureau of Social Services district annually (as opposed to by county).”
In response to a question from Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, regarding “social services districts,” Dellinger said “The Bureau for Social Services used to be the Bureau for Children and Families. The district is how they currently allocate their staff.” Dellinger further explained how one district may encompass as many as three counties.
After several moments of deliberation, a motion for approval of committee substitute for SB 274 by Vice-chair Amy Grady, R-Mason, was adopted by the committee with recommendation for passage by the full senate.
The next bill outlined by counsel was SB 585, which seeks to create an “administrative” medical license for professionals no longer practicing clinical medicine, yet retaining high-level positions within medical organizations. Mark Spangler, executive director of the West Virginia Board of Medicine, also provided testimony before the committee regarding the value of creating such a license.
“These are individuals who are medical doctors, but have not practiced clinically for more than three years. They’ve been involved in administrative positions,” Spangler stated. “Maybe a half-dozen times a year we’ll have an applicant for a West Virginia medical license, and they’ve not practiced clinically for a few years. They want to come to W.Va., for instance, to establish a medical corporation which requires a license.”
Spangler further explained that those conducting medical research or writing medical grants are also required to hold a medical license. Spangler then defined administrative medicine as “a knowledge and education of the field of medicine, however not engaging in the clinical practice of medicine. Not prescribing, not diagnosing, not examining.”
Sen. Maroney attempted to summarize the intention of the bill by saying “these are doctors who are not practicing medicine. We’re trying to create a pathway to let them partake in some of these activities in West Virginia.”
One concern presented by Sen. Stollings was the requirement that doctors serve a three-year waiting period between last practicing clinical medicine, and applying for an administrative license. An amendment presented by Stollings, and approved by the committee, successfully removed the requirement, and SB 585 was moved to the full senate with the committee’s recommendation that it be passed.
The committee then moved on to, and passed HB 4060, adopting the motion without further questions or discussion.
The final three bills before the committee were SB 213, which seeks to establish a licensed professional counseling compact, committee substitute for SB 221, which would establish an occupational therapy compact, and HB 4369, which would update the telepsychology compact previously outlined in SB 214.
As explained by counsel, these compacts, which are authorized for “both telehealth and in-person practice,” would allow states to “communicate and exchange information (relating to both doctors and patients).”
All three bills were approved by the committee, with only SB 221 requiring further explanation from Dellinger, who said that the substitute was necessary as a result of “typographical errors.” SB 213, SB 221, and HB 4369 have all been moved to the full senate with the committee’s recommendation that they be passed.