State Legislatures Make Progress in 2011

July 21, 2011

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Despite continuing budget troubles which resulted in several special sessions (and one state government shut down), legislatures and assemblies across the country were able to implement numerous AAN supported policies, especially regarding the issue of youth sports concussion.

The Academy continues to partner with patient groups, state medical associations, and other physician organizations to educate legislators about the AAN's positions. Issues tracked by the Academy are determined by the Government Relations Committee who evaluates state priorities on a yearly basis.

The following is a short summary of what has taken place in 2011. You may also view a more extensive listing of what the AAN has been tracking.

Youth Sports Concussion

Fifteen states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah) have enacted sports concussion laws in 2011 with another four awaiting the signature of the governor as of this writing (Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, and New York). Assuming those bills are signed this brings the total number of states across the country enacting sports concussion laws to 28.

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Neurology joined the National Youth Sports Concussion Coalition, an organization headed by the American College of Sport Medicine. Both organizations represented the coalition at the National Conference of State Legislatures Summit, which took place in San Antonio in August, to promote the need to implement sport concussion regulations to legislators representing states that have yet to act.

Tort Reform

New legislatures across the country open many doors for potential medical malpractice reforms—many of which included putting new caps on non-economic damages—to finally make their way through the legislative process. Of the 21 bills the Academy was tracking, eight states enacted new reforms (Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Utah).

Of note is Texas, which enacted a 'Loser Pays' law, which says that a plaintiff must pay the winning party's legal feels if their complaint is judged to be groundless. Signed by Governor Rick Perry in May, the new law should result in fewer frivolous lawsuits and lower litigation costs.

Stroke

Arizona, Nevada, and South Carolina all enacted legislation that implements new provisions pertaining to stroke protocols. Of note is what took place in South Carolina, where Governor Haley originally vetoed legislation enacting the Stroke Prevention Act of 2011. However, the legislature was able to override it, making the bill become law.

The Academy has been working with the American Stroke Association to help educate legislators on the issue of stroke, as well as to help appoint stroke experts to task forces and committees when called for.

Anti-epileptic Drugs (AEDs)

The Academy tracked four bills (Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, and New York) related to AEDs in 2011, with Iowa passing legislation that creates a task force studying the AEDs. Progress has been made in other states, including Indiana, where the state senate passed legislation that would have required a pharmacist to alert the prescribing physician and patient when a switch is made. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass the House before adjournment. And as of this writing, a bill in Connecticut was still alive waiting for a vote on the floor. The Academy will continue its partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation on this issue moving forward.

For more information contact Tim Miller at tmiller@aan.com.