Last Saturday was the Vernal Equinox, or when the sun crosses the equator, officially signaling the beginning of Spring (Punxsutawney Phil predictions aside)! Just as spring signals life renewed, it likewise signals the stretch run of the legislative session. Word has it that the General Assembly is shooting for a mid-April conclusion to the session, meaning that there is a TON of work to do in the next couple of weeks. So prepare yourself, dear reader, for a wild ride and stick right here for all of the updates and info on how you can help apply the butter.
TDC Priority Bill Updates
- ID Death Penalty Bill – this bill modernizes the definition of “intellectual disability” by aligning it with current medical and legal criteria, and provides a pathway for individuals sentenced to death to be evaluated under this modern definition.
- I can’t say it enough (probably), this bill is a HUGE deal – and it needs all the GRASSROOTS ACTIVATED support it can get.
- The bill was rolled again in both committees – long committee calendars, technical issues and grand politicking all influence these choices.
- In the end, it doesn’t matter the reason for the repeated rolling. The delays mean that we need to keep putting the pressure on our elected officials to move this bill forward.
- Use this link to email members of the committee to push them to move this bill forward (if you already emailed once, it doesn’t hurt to do so again!)
- Remember, sometimes the loudest and most persistent voice wins. It just so happens that ours is on the right side of this thing too.
- The House version is set to (hopefully) be heard in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday and the Senate version will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
- Pharmacy Benefits Reform – this bill is enormous, and does a ton of things related to limiting the practices of pharmacy benefit managers that make prescription drugs more expensive. I encourage anybody with ten minutes and a willingness to Google complex pharmacological jargon to read the bill summary on the GA page.
- We like this bill – it is indeed audacious, but I think that is a good thing.
- Senator Reeves gave an impassioned introduction to the bill on Wednesday in the Senate Commerce and Labor committee, really effectively laying out the bill and making the argument for it (watch it here! – starts at 1:52:13)
- The bill received a good amount of push back in committee this week, but passed on to Finance, Ways and Means, probably next week.
- Text-to-911 – this bill requires Tennessee to establish a statewide text-to-911 system
- This bill just keeps on chuggin’ – it’s already through the Senate and awaiting a signature, and it was unanimously passed through to much acclaim in the House State Government Committee,
- The bill will likely be heard in Finance, Ways and Means next week.
- School Nurse Funding – this bill changes the student to nurse ratio in the Basic Education Plan from 1-to-3000 to 1-to-750
- The bill was withdrawn in the Senate
Other stuff for next week:
- HB0905/SB0602 – Universal Changing Tables (Sen. Watson and Rep. Doggett)
- Senate Commerce and Labor – 3/30 @ 1pm
- HB0002/SB0001 – Balance Billing (Sen. Watson and Rep. Smith)
- HB0130/SB0114 - $15 DSP Wages (Sen. Gardenhire and Rep. Hazlewood)
- HB1168/SB1388 – Disability Child Custody (Sen. Kyle and Rep. Harris)
- HB1464/SB0488 – Transplant Discrimination Prohibition (Sen. Bell and Rep. Chochran)
- HB 1348/SB1310 – 340B Discrimination Prohibition (Sen. Briggs and Rep. Helton)
- HB0636/SB0603 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act (Sen. Watson and Rep. Smith)
- HB0808/SB1457 – Corporal Punishment Prohibition (Sen. Akbari and Rep. Powell)
- House K-12 Subcommittee – 3/30 @ 4:30pm
- HB1454/SB1292 – Sub-Minimum Wage Prohibition (Sen. Yarbro and Rep. Potts)
Now that the stimulus bill is passed and forgotten in the news cycle, let’s refocus on some legislation that we think could be beneficial for folks:
- HR153 – Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2021
- This bill would prohibit brand name drug manufacturers from paying generic drug manufacturers or biosimilars to delay entry of products into the market.
- Assigned reading (this is a joke, ignore those high school flashbacks):
- This bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Committee on the Judiciary
- HR145 – Continuing Coverage for Preexisting Conditions Act of 2021
- If the individual mandate is found to be illegal or incapable of being enforced, it would not impact the availability/renewability of coverage or the prohibition against discriminatory coverage based on preexisting conditions or health status
- Assigned reading:
- Health Affairs – What it means to cover pre-existing conditions
- The Commonwealth Fund – State Efforts to Protect Pre-Existing Conditions Unsustainable without ACA
- KFF- Protecting People with Pre-Existing Conditions Isn’t As Easy As It Seems
- CBPP - Suit Challenging ACA Legally Suspect but Threatens Loss of Coverage for Tens of Millions
- This bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee
- UPDATE! HR1868, which we discussed last week, passed the Senate 90-2, meaning that cuts to Medicare services will be delayed at least 9 more months
- The Tennessean – Governor Lee announced last Friday that all Tennesseans age 16 and up will be eligible to receive a vaccine starting April 5th. You can search for appointments using this link.
- Tennessee Lookout – Lt. Governor Randy McNally said that he would be willing to consider Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. This is a huge deal, because state Republicans have strongly resisted expansion since the passage of the ACA.
- Now is the time to do it, because states that expand Medicaid now will have 100% of their costs paid for by the federal government over the first 2 years.
- One estimate says that the savings would pay for the costs of the expanded population for 5 subsequent years in Tennessee.
- Medicaid Expansion would make affordable health coverage available to 300,000 additional Tennesseans.
- New York Times (Opinion) – I thought this was a really good piece, because it does well to make the point that for far too long, we haven’t made supporting children and families a big enough priority. Child rearing can look a lot different in this country, and I (personally) think it should.
Thanks for reading, y'all (still trying that phrase on for size). I'll leave you with some news and a shameless plug: I'm going to tweet about disability policy stuff (and maybe puppies, better check it out to see). Follow me at @jeff_tdc and tweet back at me! Follow TDC's other socials too on Twitter and Facebook. Have a wonderful weekend!