2020 Legislative Priorities
SCOPE OF PRACTICE
TMA achieved the #1 legislative agenda item to defeat a major push by the Tennessee Nursing Association and nurses across the state for independent practice among nurse practitioners. For years, TMA has led advocacy efforts to keep Tennessee physicians supervising patient care and prevent inappropriate scope of practice expansion by mid-level healthcare providers. Advance practice nurses and physician assistants have failed attempts to change state laws to achieve independent practice in Tennessee, and TMA remains steadfast in advocating for policies that improve and strengthen inter-professional 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.
We saw the demise of the insurance industry's attempted ban of balance billing, which we deem crucial for protecting 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. We're advocating for solutions that free 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's continued, concentrated work on telehealth legislation continues, as we believe telehealth services should be reimbursed comparably to in-office visits. Two versions of telehealth legislation made more progress than previous years, but ultimately neither passed. Each, however, helped advance the conversation about appropriate rules and reimbursement for technology, which 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.
COVID-RELATED LIABILITY PROTECTIONS
TMA joined more than 30 other stakeholders to protect its members from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits by pushing for the passage of a Liability Protection bill. This bill died after disagreements emerged over retroactive provisions in the bill, which some legislators deemed unconstitutional. We anticipate a special session later this summer to take address this (and, potentially, telehealth payment parity), and are committed to seeing it through.
TENNESSEE PROFESSIONAL PRIVILEGE TAX
Prior to adjourning the 2019 session, 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.