Early legislative issues
Kate Alfano, CMS contributing writer
The CMS Board of Directors meeting on January 18 featured a discussion of public policy and House of Delegates referrals on topics that included firearm safety, hydraulic fracturing, non-compete clauses and naturopath licensure.
The CMS Council on Legislation and the board were tasked with implementing HOD policy on firearm safety in response to the shootings in Aurora and Newtown. CMS has long recognized firearm violence as a public health crisis, and the board voted to support
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposal to strengthen Colorado’s mental health system, as it is in line with existing CMS policy expanded by the HOD in 2012.
On Thursday, Jan. 17, the CMS Council on Legislation also suggested supporting more mental health workers and patient beds, more emergency mental health workers, more mental health workers that are available to treat dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental health illness, and more emphasis on pediatric mental health care.
The board supports the enactment of “reasonable laws” that seek to regulate the sale and distribution of firearms to protect public health and safety. Laws will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with recommendations made after their analysis.
“While it is clinically difficult if not impossible for physicians and other mental health experts to consistently anticipate violent behavior, it is not difficult to reduce that risk by expanding our mental health system capacity, especially in terms of caregivers and support systems, and especially for our children and adolescents,” said CMS President Jan Kief, MD.
“Gun ownership per se is not the risk – it is illegal or irresponsible gun use, and the irresponsible sale and distribution of firearms to those who lack the competency and maturity to own any kind of loaded weapon. But that aspect is problematic, a symptom, unless we take care of those who by no choice of their own are burdened with treatable mental disorders,” she added.
On the topic of hydraulic fracturing, the board adopted a motion from a November meeting of the COL that directs CMS to pursue a written explanation from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission stating that they agree that a physician should have access to specific proprietary or confidential information – above what is available in the public domain – if it is necessary to care for a patient.
The council also recommended that the written explanation include a provision to allow a physician to share the information with the patient and other physicians and providers involved in the care of the patient. The purpose of the request for explanation is to clarify a COGCC rule detailing trade secret disclosure and procedure for requesting proprietary information.
The COL recommendation directed CMS to pursue legislation should COGCC not agree to this policy, but meetings with the group indicate that they will comply with the request.
The board approved a COL motion to pursue legislation that makes non-compete (liquidated damages) clauses unenforceable in instances when a physician is terminated from an employment contract using the “without-cause” reason for termination.
This resolution is the result of a health system’s without-cause termination of several physicians and enforcement of the non-compete clause. A special committee of the CMS Board of Directors will continue to study and refine the issue. The HOD will take final action on the board’s recommendation in September.
At the January 17 COL meeting, the group discussed a bill under consideration by the Colorado General Assembly that would create a state board under the Department of Regulatory Agencies for the licensure of naturopaths. Under the bill, a person who attends a school of naturopathy would be allowed to diagnose, treat, operate and prescribe for disease, pain, injury or other physical or mental conditions.
The COL voted to oppose this bill as it stands, citing concerns with patient safety, but leaders and staff have committed to work with legislators to craft legislation to recognize the work of naturopaths while upholding the mission of CMS and its members.
Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Legislative Updates | Initiatives | Advocacy