Health Care Access and Patient Safety
- Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Burzichelli sponsored an anti-discrimination law that prevents New Jersey hospitals from declining an organ transplant on a patient because he/she has a developmental disability. The law was inspired by an incident in Pennsylvania where a family was allegedly told their 3-year-old child would not be eligible for a kidney transplant because she has a mental disability.
- Senator Sweeney drafted a new law which requires school districts to ensure that students with disabilities have opportunities to participate in athletic activities equal to those of other students.
- In response to rising prescription drug costs for public sector workers, Senator Sweeney drafted and sponsored legislation designed to root out profiteering by drug companies and the “pharmaceutical benefit manager” responsible for purchasing and supplying medications for public employees in New Jersey. Under the law, the state will hire a benefits manager to employ “reverse auction” services to audit spending and perform instant price comparisons to ensure that the right medications are being purchased for the right costs. This electronic monitoring, which is essentially an online competitive bidding process, will save at least $200 million annually while simultaneously preserving employee drug benefits.
- In an effort to confront the epidemic of opioid addiction, Assemblyman Taliaferro is sponsoring legislation which would require healthcare practitioners to discuss the risk of addiction when prescribing certain drugs to patients who are minors. The bill applies to Schedule II controlled dangerous substances and any prescription opioid drug. The practitioner would discuss the risks of developing a physical or psychological dependence on the drug and the availability of alternative treatments.
- Assemblyman Burzichelli has penned legislation that would permit hospitals to implement incentive plans to provide physicians with performance-based payments in an effort to increase quality of care and reduce costs. Hospitals that seek to establish a plan will be required to form a steering committee to implement institutional and specialty-specific goals related to patient safety, quality of care, and operational performance; implement an incentive payment methodology that ensures fair and consistent payments that correlate with individual and collective physician performance; and adopt a mechanism to protect the financial health of the hospital. The plan may additionally include specific patient management tasks, care redesign initiatives, and patient safety and quality of care objectives. At least half of the members of the committee are to be physicians.