WVPA Legislative Day at the Capitol: Update on Pharmacy

West Virginia Pharmacists Association members and pharmacy students from our state’s three schools of pharmacy — University of Charleston, Marshall University and West Virginia University — will gather at the Capitol tomorrow to engage in discussion with Senators and Delegates regarding issues of interest to the profession. This annual event demonstrates pharmacists’ interest in legislative issues and services pharmacists provide patients.

According to Governor Jim Justice’s budget proposal, the Medicaid program ended 2018 with a cash balance in the state’s matching share. Fiscal year revenues for 2018 revenues are $185.9 million above estimates at the end of December 2018. Medicaid is an important fiscal issue for pharmacies.

Revenue officials cited the biggest state expenditure to the state would not be the $50 million it would cost under the Governor’s plan to cut taxes for Social Security recipients, but the $150 million it would cost to dedicate enough money to PEIA to provide a satisfactory cushion for state workers for the next few years. The financial well-being of PEIA is important to retail pharmacies.

The Department of Health and Human Resources updated legislators on their programs and statistics on how the opioid epidemic is affecting West Virginia. “The opioid crisis is a health crisis, a social crisis and an economic crisis,” said Bob Hansen, Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. The state is losing $8.8 billion a year because of the crisis, said DHHR officials.

Attorney General Patrick Morrsey requested lawmakers transfer the jurisdiction of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to his office. Some legislators support his request, citing Medicaid having the second largest budget after education.

Senate Bill 5 is proceeding through the legislative process regulating prior authorizations of certain healthcare procedures by insurance companies. This bipartisan bill requires insurance companies to accept electronically transmitted prior authorizations and, in addition to other requirements, mandates insurance companies respond to such requests within 24 business hours of receipt.

In contrast, the House Health Committee originated House Bill 2351, its own bipartisan version of the prior authorization bill, wherein responses to such requests are mandated within seven (7) days for non-urgent requests and two days where a delay could jeopardize the live or health of the patient. House Bill 2351 was approved by the House Health Committee.

Importing prescription drugs from Canada is proposed in House Bill 2428. The measure license the state as a wholesale, allowing importation of drugs from licensed, regulated Canadian suppliers, solely for distribution to voluntarily, participating, in-state pharmacies and administering providers for the exclusive purpose of dispensing to state residents with a valid prescription. Approved by the House Health Committee, the bill was sent to the House Judiciary Committee where it was amended to require a study of importation of drugs.

Senate Bill 385 authorizes the WV Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) to establish base benefits insurance plans.

House Bill 2508 clarifies that theft of a controlled substance is a felony, and any person found guilty may be imprisoned in a correctional facility for not less than one year nor more that four years, or fined up to $30,000.

House Bill 2510 requires the Legislative Auditor to conduct review of the fee structure of boards of examination or registration (e.g. Board of Pharmacy) when its special fund exceeds twice its annual budget or $10,000. If excess revenue is generated, fees may be adjusted to generate only the amount the board reasonably needs to operate.

House Bill 2486 prohibits a licensing board (e.g., Board of Pharmacy) from disqualifying an applicant for licensure because of a prior criminal conviction that has not been reversed unless that conviction is for a crime that bears a rational nexus to the occupation requiring licensure. It also prohibits a board using criteria such as moral character, moral turpitude or other related undefined standards of conduct in making licensure determinations.