04.19.12 A Senate committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would allow the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, instead of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, to regulate pain management clinics.
Senate Bill 220 by Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, would let the board restrict, suspend or revoke licenses to operate pain management clinics and impose fines for those who own or operate a clinic without a state license.
Several people spoke in support of the bill, including Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier and Dr. Keith DeSonier, a local physician and chairman of the Louisiana Medical Society. DeRosier — who worked with Johns on the prescription drug monitoring program that was signed into law in 2007 — said the board can keep a close watch on pain management clinics.
“We have all seen what happens with (the clinics),” DeRosier said. “The bottom line is, nobody knows better than the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners. They know the difference in the good guys and the bad guys.”
Some committee members, including Sen. Fred Mills, R-New Iberia, said the bill could hurt certified registered nurse anesthetists statewide.
Chris Young, a representative of the Louisiana Association of Nurse Anesthetists, said there are 1,200 CRNAs statewide. He said they give 65 percent of anesthesia statewide and provide 85 percent to 100 percent of anesthesia in rural areas.
The committee approved an amendment by Mills that ensures registered nurse anesthetists would remain under the oversight of the state Board of Nursing.
Another bill by Johns, Senate Bill 629, would require the Louisiana Medicaid Bayou Health program to submit transparency reporting to the Department of Health and Hospitals.
His measure removed a provision that was included in a bill pushed last year by former Sen. Willie Mount. It called for the program to be dismantled if the Legislature did not renew it. The Legislature passed Mount’s bill, but Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed it.
An amendment was included in Johns’ bill that requires the same reporting and oversight for the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership and the Coordinated System of Care. Another amendment calls for comparing the last three years of data on the program with future reports.
The measures head to the full Senate for consideration.