By Matthew Young, WV Press News Sharing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – With the conclusion of West Virginia’s 2022 legislative session less than two weeks away, the Senate’s Health and Human Resources Committee met on Tuesday with seven proposed bills on its agenda. Each of the bills deliberated by committee members related to the medical profession, and originated within the W.Va. House of Delegates.
The first bill discussed was HB 2817, as introduced by Del. Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha. In lieu of reading the full bill, Committee General Counsel Cindy Dellinger provided an overview, stating, “The proposed bill creates a new chapter of code entitled ‘donate drug repository program’.”
After defining the terms “board, donor, drug, and eligible patient,” Dellinger went on to say “The proposed bill provides waivers for donors and eligible recipients from any role related to the program. The bill provides that any person or entity may dispose of an eligible drug by donating it to an eligible recipient.”
In order to be donated, prescription and over-the-counter drugs must be unopened and not expired. Controlled substances and scheduled-drugs are not eligible for donation. In response to a question from Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, Dellinger advised the committee that “an eligible recipient is defined as a pharmacy, wholesaler, a reverse distributor, a hospital, a federally-qualified health center, a non-profit clinic, a healthcare facility, or a private office of a healthcare professional that has been authorized by the Board of Pharmacy.”
Committee Chair Sen. Michael Maroney, R-Marshall, then summarized the bill’s intent, stating “It’s a ‘patient access for expensive medication’ bill.”
The committee added two amendments to establish liability protection for both donors and recipients before adopting the bill.
HB 4631 was then addressed, with Dellinger again providing a brief explanation.
“The purpose of this bill is to establish bone marrow and a peripheral blood-stem donation awareness program,” Dellinger said.
Under the provisions of the proposed bill, which would be named for Demetry Walker, the Department of Health and Human Resources would be tasked with the creation of an informational-website regarding state and federal resources available to donors.
Demetry Walker, who passed away from complications of leukemia on June 19, 2021, was the son of bill-sponsor, Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia. Del. Walker appeared before the committee to provide testimony regarding the bill.
“I am very thankful that you have brought this bill up in this committee,” Walker said. “Demetry loved West Virginia. The first time we did a bone marrow biopsy (on Demetry) was at four-and-a-half (years old). What we did not get was that awareness. I didn’t know that I could become a bone marrow donor at that time, which is a simple swab of the mouth.”
Walker further explained that African-Americans are “harder to match” with prospective bone marrow donors, before saying “What you have there is a bill that is proactive in healthcare, in our mountains and hollers of our Mountain State. What you have before you is continuing the life and legacy of my king, Demetry “Mack” Walker.”
Sen Maroney expressed his support of Walker, stating, “Thank you very much for your courage to turn the worst situation possible into a platform to help others.”
HB 4631 was then unanimously adopted by the committee.
HB 4288, sponsored by Del. Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, and seeking to “permit the WV acupuncture board to approve any other profession the board determines eligible to perform auricular acudetox.”
HB 4426, sponsored by Del. Steve Westfall, R-Jackson, is intended to create “provider sponsored networks.”
Both bills were adopted by the committee. However, HB 4288 will first be referred to the Senate’s Committee on Government Organization.
HB 4649, sponsored by Del. Matthew Rohrbach, which proposes that operations of WV CHIP be transferred to the Bureau for Medical Services, was also adopted.
The final two bills on the committee’s agenda, HB 4324, intending to “update collaborative pharmacy agreements,” and HB 4252, seeking to reduce the copay-cap on “insulin and device,” were also both sponsored by Del. Rohrbach.
According to Dellinger, the provisions contained within HB 4324 would “update language,” and set more finite guidelines surrounding the level and type of treatment provided by a pharmacist. A proposed amendment “corrects technical issues by inserting code section and citation of words.”
“Essentially it moved from a practice agreement to a practice notification,” Dellinger advised the committee. “This is the same thing that we did with physician assistants.”
Dellinger went on to provide an overview of HB 4252. In addition to the reduction of costs associated with copays, Dellinger advised the committee that the bill’s purpose is to “permit testing equipment to be purchased without a prescription as they relate to diabetes.”
Dellinger then explained that the committee’s substitute for HB 4252 would reduce the cap for PEIA employees from $100 to $35 for a 30-day supply of insulin, as well as reduced caps for applicable equipment.
Both HB 4324 and the committee’s substitute for HB 4252 were adopted with the recommendation that they be passed by the full Senate. However, HB 4252 will first be referred to the Senate’s Committee on Finance.