Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/09/2003 01:25 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 260 - IMMUNITY FOR PROVIDING FREE HEALTH CARE Number 1754 CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 260, "An Act relating to immunity for free health care services provided by certain health care providers; and providing for an effective date." [Before the committee was CSHB 260(L&C); in members' packets was a proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 260, Version Q, 23-LS0823\Q, Ford, 5/8/03, and a proposed amendment to Version Q.] Number 1728 JASON HARMON, N.D., Vice President, Alaska Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AKANP), offered the AKANP's support of HB 260, saying that it is an important bill for Alaska in the sense that it is potentially going to open up health care in rural communities by reducing some of the liabilities currently faced by health care providers who wish to volunteer their services. Number 1673 REPRESENTATIVE PAUL SEATON, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, noted that naturopathic physicians and registered nurses have been included in the definition of "health care provider" as used in proposed AS 09.65.290. DOCTOR HARMON posited that the concerns of the legislature and health care providers align in the sense that both groups are concerned about access to excellent health care and the aging of the "medical population." He mentioned that other states have made changes similar to what is being proposed via HB 260. CHAIR McGUIRE noted the importance of looking beyond just the urban centers when considering issues of health care. Number 1586 MIKE HAUGAN, Executive Director, Alaska Physicians and Surgeons, Inc., said simply that his organization represents approximately 170 physicians in Anchorage and strongly supports HB 260 and [Amendment 1]. Number 1558 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG made a motion to adopt Amendment 1, which read [original punctuation provided]: Delete page 3, line 4, and renumber accordingly. CHAIR McGUIRE asked whether there were any objections to adopting Amendment 1. There being none, Amendment 1 was adopted. Number 1535 REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS moved to adopt the proposed (CS) to HB 260, Version 23-LS0823\Q, Ford, 5/8/03, as the work draft. The committee took an at-ease from 4:29 p.m. to 4:31 p.m. Number 1534 CHAIR McGUIRE asked whether there were any objections to the motion. There being none, Version Q was before the committee. Number 1529 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG restated his motion to adopt Amendment 1. There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. Number 1515 REPRESENTATIVE OGG made a motion to adopt Conceptual Amendment 2, to add "direct-entry midwives" after "nurse midwife" on page 3, line 5. CHAIR McGUIRE clarified that because Version Q was now before the committee, Conceptual Amendment 2 would instead apply to page 3, line 12. REPRESENTATIVES GRUENBERG, HOLM, and SEATON pointed out, however, that "certified direct-entry midwife" is already included in Version Q, on lines 14-15 of page 3. Number 1456 CHAIR McGUIRE indicated that Conceptual Amendment 2 was withdrawn. REPRESENTATIVE GARA indicated that he might be offering another amendment depending on whether the issue raised in the letter from the Alaska Nurses Association has been addressed yet. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON relayed that Legislative Legal and Research Services has researched that issue and concluded that volunteer work done in emergency shelters and temporary trauma units is already covered, under both a separate statute and HB 260. Number 1361 PATRICIA SENNER, R.N., President, Alaska Nurses Association (AaNA), relayed that the AaNA along with the Alaska chapter of the American Red Cross, the [Division of Public Health, Nursing Section], and the Municipality of Anchorage's health department have recently established the Alaska Nurse Alert System. She said that the AaNA is concerned about the "description of the location of health services," specifically that temporary emergency services are not clearly [included] in proposed AS 09.65.290(a)(3). Because attorneys might, in the future, argue that somehow the services provided to their clients were not meant to be covered by this bill, she remarked, the AaNP would prefer that the inclusion of temporary emergency services be clearly spelled out. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said that according to Legislative Legal and Research Services, because those services would be provided at facilities owned by a municipality, the stare, or the federal government, they would be covered under HB 260. In addition, AS 09.65.091 addresses civil liability for responding to a disaster. He offered, however, that he has no objection to adding language that would further clarify this issue. REPRESENTATIVE GARA noted that nonprofit facilities are also addressed in the bill. He opined that such should cover a "Red Cross unit." He asked Ms. Senner whether she is comforted by the foregoing information. MS. SENNER said yes, adding that it was the term "owned by" that had her concerned that perhaps providing services from a tent set up in the middle of a field would not be covered. CHAIR McGUIRE and REPRESENTATIVE GARA indicated that it was their belief and intention that such would be covered. Number 1199 CHIP WAGONER, Lobbyist for Covenant House Alaska, said that his client strongly supports HB 260. He said that Covenant House Alaska had experiences wherein health care providers that wanted to volunteer services to the organization had been unable to do so because of malpractice liability. He noted that members should have received a letter of support from Covenant House Alaska. CHAIR McGUIRE assured him that copies of that letter were included in members' packets. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Mr. Wagoner whether there were any other category of people whom his client would like to see included in HB 260 MR. WAGONER suggested that perhaps emergency medical technicians (EMTs) ought to be included, but surmised that perhaps they are already covered under other statutes. CHAIR McGUIRE closed public testimony on HB 260. She then said that Amendment 1 was offered and adopted because the language it deleted had "absolutely nothing to do with the bill," and that to have kept that language in as a political statement simply would have been wrong. Number 1099 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM moved to report the proposed (CS) for HB 260, Version 23-LS0823\Q, Ford, 5/8/03, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHB 260(JUD) was reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.