The chairman of the state Senate’s Well being and Welfare Committee believes laws coping with well being care — particularly Tennessee’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — might be “a high precedence” within the upcoming 112th session of the state Basic Meeting.
State Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson Metropolis, additionally stated lawmakers will deal with payments to permit exemptions to vaccinations primarily based on non secular objections or by proper of conscience.
“Gov. Invoice Lee has voiced his assist that Tennesseans have a selection in whether or not or not they need to take the (COVID-19) vaccine,” he stated final week.
Crowe stated Tennessee regulation at present permits for sure exemptions to routine vaccinations primarily based on non secular grounds, but it surely seems the pandemic shouldn’t be lined below the statute.
“I’ve all the time supported our non secular freedom statutes,” he stated.
Bettering The Security Web
As dean of the Northeast Tennessee’s legislative delegation, Crowe stated he might be searching for further cash within the subsequent fiscal yr’s finances to widen Tennessee’s well being care security web for adults in want of main care, behavioral well being and dental companies.
State lawmakers will convene for the brand new legislative session on Jan. 12.
“We made enhancements in all of those areas in the course of the 2019 and 2020 legislative periods,” he stated. “The necessity for psychological well being companies has notably grown because of the pandemic. Proposals are additionally anticipated to extend entry to preventative care and smoking cessation.”
Crowe stated he may also be supporting enlargement of postpartum protection for pregnant girls this yr. Final yr, TennCare officers really useful a three-year pilot program to increase 12-month protection after supply for girls who’re at present ineligible below one other program class.
“We have now discovered that this enlargement ought to stop many post-parting toddler deaths,” the veteran lawmaker stated.
He additionally believes Tennessee ought to search for further funds for the state Division of Well being’s Proof-Based mostly Residence Visiting Program. Crowe stated this program has been profitable in providing an efficient early intervention technique to enhance the well being and well-being of youngsters and their mother and father.
“Analysis demonstrates that younger youngsters of households enrolled in this system present enchancment in well being and improvement outcomes and elevated college readiness,” he stated. “Johnson Metropolis has a program that has been very profitable.”
Increasing Telehealth Choices
Crowe famous that earlier this yr, the Basic Meeting handed laws increasing telehealth companies. It required protection of telehealth and telemedicine companies to offer sufferers in Tennessee the choice to obtain mandatory medical care at house, and to assist stop the unfold of the coronavirus.
“The state’s well being applications have enormously elevated utilization of telehealth companies in the course of the pandemic,” Crowe stated. “I believe we’ll see further proposals earlier than the committee relating to telehealth or the way in which the state delivers these companies by means of TennCare and security web applications to be proposed in 2021.”
Crowe can be sure he and his colleagues will “see payments spill over from the previous Basic Meeting to legalize marijuana for restricted medicinal functions.” In line with the Nationwide Convention of State Legislatures, 36 states and 4 territories now regulate hashish for medical use following the November election when voters in Mississippi and South Dakota permitted poll measures on the matter.
“Final yr the well being committee amended and handed a invoice that might enable it in Tennessee provided that the feds make it a Schedule II drug,” he stated.
Different Points In 2021
Crowe stated he may also be:
• Co-sponsoring “balanced billing” laws with state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, to guard sufferers from shock medical payments. The proposal removes sufferers from the method of resolving billing disputes between suppliers and price payers, and instantly impacts Tennesseans with insurance coverage who obtain companies offered by out-of-network suppliers in emergency conditions.
• Working with different members of the Senate Well being and Welfare Committee to proceed legislative efforts to curb opiate abuse in Tennessee.
He stated regulation enforcement and well being officers report opioid-related deaths have elevated in Tennessee in the course of the pandemic.
Crowe stated a current report revealed by the Tennessee Division of Well being discovered 2,089 Tennesseans died of a drug overdose in 2019, which is a 15 % improve from 2018. Of these deaths, 1,543 have been a results of opioids.
• Exploring methods to boost assist for kids within the state’s foster care system. Crowe stated the the opioid epidemic in Tennessee has prompted a major improve within the variety of youngsters getting into the system and residents having their parental rights terminated.
“We could take a look at methods to enhance alternatives for achievement for youth in Tennessee’s foster care system by increasing school training help.” he stated.