While session may have ended in April, I have still been working as a member of interim study committees in preparation for this upcoming year. One of the committees that I had the privilege of serving on is the Health Finance Commission. Having spent nearly my entire life in the health care field, it is something that I am very passionate about.
Study committees allow us more time to really dig into the weeds of the issues that are impacting our state the most. After months of study, the Health Finance Commission has made five recommendations for possible legislation to be heard during the 2014 legislative session. One of these recommendations, which I was extremely pleased to see, concerns treatment of traumatic brain injuries.
The committee is recommending that by September 1, 2014, the State Department of Health shall adopt rules that establish a license and provide regulations for a facility that provides specialized treatment and services for traumatic brain injuries. Our state currently lacks traumatic brain services, specifically post-acute care facilities.
Hoosiers who experience traumatic brain injuries are forced to go out of state for care. We heard testimony from individuals who talked about the hardships they faced having to travel to someplace else to receive care and being away from family and friends during that difficult time. Additionally, this can pose a serious financial burden. If our taxpayer dollars are already going towards funding licensed facilities in other states, I think it’s time that we developed one here in Indiana.
The next recommendation deals with electronic health data. The commission is recommending that the State Department of Health and the Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services be required to establish a work group which would study uniform access to electronic health data by health providers. If this were to become a reality, patients with multiple providers would be able to have all of their health information made available to the physician currently treating them as their patient. This would not only increase safety but also lower costs.
They are also recommending that the Commission for Higher Education be required to study and make recommendations concerning the issue of the high costs of dental education and the high level of debt incurred by individuals attending dental school. This would be done in consultation with the State Board of Dentistry and the Indiana University School of Dentistry.
The commission also made two other recommendations that I am still currently weighing. One of these recommendations would change the law regarding minors and tanning devices. Under current law, a person who is under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when using a tanning device in a tanning facility. The committee has recommended that the current provision be repealed and replaced with a provision prohibiting anyone under the age of 16 from using any tanning device at a tanning facility.
The final recommendation deals with biosimilar drugs, or generics, as they are more commonly known. The committee is recommending that a pharmacist be allowed to substitute an interchangeable biosimilar product for a prescribed biological product if certain conditions are met. For instance, the pharmacist would have to inform the customer of the substitution, the prescribing practitioner would then have to be notified within five calendar days and both the pharmacy and the practitioner would have to retain a record of the substitution for at least five years.
As you can see, we tackled a wide variety of issues in this committee. I appreciate all of the valuable information that was shared with us throughout the course of our meetings. Now that we have an idea of what we may be looking at during the next session, I want to hear your opinions as well. Do you have experience in these matters? What are your thoughts on these recommendations? I can be reached by phone at 317-232-9509 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you as I continue to independently explore these issues!