Significant changes for nurse practitioners and physician practices will be introduced

On January 9, the 2019 General Assembly Session will convene, and there are several bills that are set to be introduced that may have an impact on Virginia healthcare providers. We will update this post with additional legislation as session progresses.

HB 1640 Health carriers; services provided by nurse practitioners.

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Chief patron: Ransone

Health carriers; nurse practitioners. Requires health insurers and health service plan providers whose policies or contracts cover services that may be legally performed by licensed nurse practitioners to provide equal coverage for such services when rendered by a licensed nurse practitioner.

Analysis: HB 1640 would required parity of coverage for services provided by physicians and nurse practitioners. This is good news for nurses who desire to practice autonomously, by guaranteeing them that insurance companies will be required to cover services provided by them as long as they’re legally permitted to provide such services.

SB 1004 Health care services; payment estimates.

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Chief patron: Chase

Health care services; payment estimates. Requires practitioners licensed by the Board of Medicine and hospitals to provide a patient or the representative of a patient scheduled to receive a nonemergency procedure, test, or service to be performed by the practitioner or hospital, at least three days in advance of the date of such procedure, test, or service, an estimate of the payment amount for which the participant will be responsible. Under current law, the requirement to provide such estimate applies only to hospitals for elective procedures, tests, or services and only upon request.

Analysis: SB 1004 would require physicians to provide an estimate of patient payment for nonemergency procedures, test, or services in advance of the date of service. This could be a significant administrative burden on hospitals, physicians and physician practices, but would provide more transparency for patients.

HB 1792 Employment; covenants not to compete, low-wage employees.

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Chief patron: VanValkenburg

Employment; covenants not to compete; low-wage employees. Prohibits an employer from entering into a covenant not to compete with any of its low-wage employees. The measure declares that covenants not to compete entered into by an employer and a low-wage employee are contrary to public policy and are void and unenforceable. The measure defines a low-wage employee as one whose average weekly earnings are less than the average weekly wage of the Commonwealth.

Analysis: HB 1792 would prohibit employers from imposing non-compete clauses on its low wage employees. In 2018 in Richmond, Virginia, the weekly wage was $1,308. If passed, employers would need to re-examine all employment contracts for their employees making less than the weekly average.