Health Issues on State Ballots

From ACG Legislative and Public Policy Council Chair, James C. Hobley, MD, MSc, FACG

While the country awaits the results on the U.S. Presidential and various congressional elections (at the time of this writing), there were various health care related issues on the state ballots across the country. In addition to abortion-related measures and recreational drug measures, there were various state proposals to help fund public health programs. Some highlights:

Passed: Issue $5.5 billion for stem cell research funding for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Rejected: Requires chronic dialysis clinics to have an on-site physician present while patients are being treated, obtain consent from the state health department before closing a clinic and report data on dialysis-related infections to the state health department and National Healthcare Safety Network. This ballot measure would also prohibit discrimination of patients based on the source of payment for treatment.

Passed: establishes 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax, paid in half by employers and half by employees.
Passed: Increases taxes on cigarette and tobacco products, as well as creates a tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, which are currently not taxed in Colorado. Revenues would be allocated for health and education programs.

Passed: Authorizes about $33.3 million in bonds for improvements for certain senior citizen facilities across the state.

Rejected: Currently, 75% of the funds Oklahoma receives from tobacco companies, under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, is deposited into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. That money is designed to be used for programs targeting tobacco use prevention and education. Question 814 aims to cut that percentage down to 25% and instead funnel the remaining majority of funds to secure matching funds for the state’s Medicaid program.

Passed: Authorizes program for psilocybin-producing mushroom and fungi administration for adults 21 years and older. Currently, psilocybin is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, and consumption is illegal under federal and state law.
Passed: Increases taxes on tobacco and nicotine products, like e-cigarettes, at various rates. Revenues would support the state’s Medical Assistance Program, and other tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.

Passed: Legalizes recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years and older. This would also require the state to pass laws providing a program for medical marijuana and the sale of hemp by April 2022.

Passed: Allows the state to use income tax revenue to fund social services. Currently, it can use this revenue only for education funding.

Rejected: Supports the investment of funds in the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Trust Account — the first state-operated, long-term insurance program. Currently in Washington, the state is prohibited from investing funds into stocks or other methods of investment.

ACG will keep you updated on other health related state ballots and other initiatives.

FBI: Ransomware Activity Targeting the Healthcare and Public Health Sector

From ACG Practice Management Committee Chair Stephen T. Amann, MD, FACG

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and two federal agencies are warning of an "imminent cybercrime threat" to U.S. hospitals and health care providers, noting that several hospitals across the country have already been hit. In a joint advisory, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said they have "credible information" that cybercriminals are taking new aim at health care providers and public health agencies.

Click here for the recommended mitigation steps and best practices to combat these threats.

ACG will continue to keep you updated on this important issue.

What is the Practice Management Toolbox?

The Toolbox is a series of short articles, written by practicing gastroenterologists, that provide members with easily accessible information to improve their practices. Each article covers an issue important to private practice gastroenterologists and physician-lead clinical practices. They include a brief introduction, a topic overview, specific suggestions, helpful examples and a list of resources or references. Each month a new edition of the Toolbox will be released and will then remain available here along with all previous editions. The Practice Management Committee is confident this series will a provide valuable resource for members striving to optimize their practices.