2020 Legislative Priorities
SCOPE OF PRACTICE
TMA for years has led advocacy efforts to keep Tennessee physicians supervising patient care and prevent inappropriate scope of practice expansion for midlevel healthcare providers. Advance practice nurses and physician assistants have been unsuccessful in their attempts to change state laws to achieve independent practice in Tennessee, and TMA remains steadfast in advocating for policies that improve and strengthen interprofessional relationships, not weaken them. TMA is leading a coalition of medical specialty societies and other healthcare organizations promoting physician-led, team-based healthcare delivery teams as the best model for patient safety and quality of care.
While no related bills gained traction in the Tennessee General Assembly during the 2019 session, Congress is considering multiple proposals to protect patients from “surprise medical bills.” TMA continues to educate state and federal lawmakers on health plans’ narrow networks as the root cause of balance billing and advocate for a solution that frees patients from the financial burden of unexpected out-of-network charges while protecting physicians’ rights to choose how they practice and get paid appropriately for services they provide.
TMA supported a 2019 bill to ensure telehealth services would be reimbursed at the same rates as in-office visits. The bill did not pass, but it helped advance the conversation about appropriate rules and reimbursement for technology that is critical to improving healthcare access across the state, particularly in rural, underserved areas. TMA will continue advocating for laws, rules and regulations that support telehealth as part of coordinated, integrated healthcare delivery and bring reimbursement on par with comparable in-person services.
TENNESSEE PROFESSIONAL PRIVILEGE TAX
Prior to adjourning the 2019 session in May, the General Assembly abruptly exempted several professions from paying the state’s professional privilege tax. Doctors are still required to pay the annual tax, along with lawyers, lobbyists and stock brokers. TMA has advocated for reduction or removal of the professional privilege tax for years and will continue working with state lawmakers on possible solutions.