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News & Press: Legislative

Wide Support for Bill Expanding Dental Hygienist Access at Nursing Homes, CBRFs

Friday, March 24, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sarah Bass
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The Assembly Committee on Health on Wednesday held a public hearing on three bills that seek to expand access to health care in Wisconsin, including one bill that would expand the settings where dental hygienists may practice without the presence of a dentist to include nursing homes and community-based residential facilities, among other settings. 

The other bills before the committee would allow prescription refills without a physician's authorization under certain circumstances; and would create standards for non-emergency services provided by community parademics/emergency medical services (CEMS).

All three bills are scheduled to be voted on by the Assembly Health Committee next week on Wednesday. Below are highlights from the public hearing held this week:

Dental hygienists - RSA and RFW Seek Amendment

Assembly Bill 146 received overwhelming support at Wednesday's public hearing at the state Capitol, with representatives from Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Hospital Association, Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Dental Hygienists Association all testifying in support of the bill, among many other people. Most speakers said this bill would expand access to dental care by allowing dental hygienists to practice in places where the patients tend to already be: day care centers, hospitals, outpatient medical centers, nursing homes, CBRFs and more. This is especially important for reaching children, the elderly, the poor and others who perhaps would not otherwise make separate trips to the dentist regularly, many people said during their testimony.

Community Emergency Medical Services

Assembly Bill 151 would define statewide standards for Community Emergency Medical Services, or CEMS, and would provide greater opportunities for EMTs and others to provide health care services in non-emergency settings.

Under the bill, a community paramedic or community emergency medical technician may perform services 1) for which he or she is trained under the training program; 2) that are not duplicative of services already being provided to a patient; and 3) that are either approved by the hospital, clinic, or physician for which he or she is an employee or contractor or that are incorporated in the patient care protocol submitted by the community emergency medical services provider. 

The bill's authors said at the hearing that the goal of the bill is to not duplicate home health agency services but to provide more opportunities for people to receive health care services outside of emergency rooms, especially in rural areas that perhaps don't have a health center nearby.

This bill is widely supported by numerous groups, including Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin, Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin EMS Association and the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association.

Click here to see the written testimony submitted at Wednesday'shearing on AB 151.  

Prescription refills

Assembly Bill 125 would allow pharmacists to dispense a prescription refill without a physician's authorization under certain circumstances. The refill would be limited to a seven-day supply and could not include controlled substances.

Many people testified in support of the bill, which they said would provide continuity of care for people who find themselves out of their prescription drug and who cannot get ahold of their physician immediately. AB 125 was dubbed a "commonsense" bill by many who testified Wednesday.

Click here to see the written testimony submitted at Wednesday'shearing on AB 125.

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