WEST virginia legislature
2017 regular session
House Bill 2823
By Delegates Miley, Longstreth, Pyles, Isner, Hornbuckle, Evans, E., Barrett, Williams and Robinson
[Introduced March 8, 2017;
to the Committee on Health and Human Resources then Finance.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §16-5W-1, §16-5W-2, §16-5W-3 and §16-5W-4, all relating to requiring the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health to establish an on-call center for state residents to receive assistance with healthcare.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article designated §16-5W-1, §16-5W-2, §16-5W-3 and §16-5W-4, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5W. Statewide call-in center for health care advice and referral.
The purpose of this article is to create a mechanism for residents of this state to receive a free assessment of a health condition over the phone by a nurse when a health issue arises, to determine what action should be taken and in many cases preventing the need to visit a hospital emergency room for an initial assessment. Establishing a statewide call-in center will reduce unnecessary emergency room and urgent care facilities visits for nonemergent health issues by creating a new initial diversion point for persons having a health care issue. Utilizing the call-in center will also provide a convenient option, especially in rural areas of the state, for residents to quickly receive a no cost health care assessment at home, on a twenty-four hour basis, therefore increasing availability to health care service while providing savings to residents and their insurers.
§16-5W-2. Creation of state-wide healthcare advice hotline and call-in center.
(a) The commissioner shall establish and administer a statewide call-in center. The call-in center shall be available to all residents of this state without charge by calling a toll free telephone number which shall be directed to a nurse. The call-in hotline will be available on a twenty-four hour basis every day of the year. Any vendor selected to administer the call-in center must have a minimum of three years’ experience in providing this service.
(b)The call-in center may also provide a physician referral mechanism to allow the nurse to refer the resident to a physician to further assess the patient and in limited circumstances write a prescription for an acute illness. Types of illnesses that physicians may prescribe include nonemergent acute illnesses such as allergies, respiratory infections, bronchitis, colds, ear infections, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and other acute illnesses as authorized by the commissioner. A physician may not prescribe any narcotic drug or lifestyle medications such as erectile dysfunction, sleeping aids or anti-depressants utilizing the provisions of this article.
§16-5W-3. Requirements for call-in center.
(a) All nurses employed by the call-in center must be a state resident and hold registered nursing licensee by West Virginia with a minimum five years prior nursing experience. Any physicians providing services via the call-in center must be a resident of and licensed in West Virginia;
(b) The call-in center must be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and the call-in system may not allow any caller to get a busy signal. All calls must be answered within three minutes. The commissioner shall establish requirements for the call-in center to assure that assistance is provided only to state residents. All call records must be retained and submitted as required by the commissioner; and
(c) The call-in center must meet all further requirements as established by the commissioner.
§16-5W-4. Powers and duties of the commissioner.
(a) The commissioner shall develop guidance documents for nurses to conduct assessments and protocols for when a caller may be referred to a physician for possible diagnosis and issuance of a prescription, or other action. The commissioner shall also develop any other protocols for referrals as medical conditions require. The commissioner shall also provide any criteria for authorization for pharmacies to issue prescriptions from a physician contacted through a call-in center.
(b) The commissioner may accept from any public or private source appropriations, grants, gifts, bequests and contributions for use in establishing and maintaining the call-in center.
(c) The commission may propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to effectuate the provisions of this article.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish a statewide call-in center for all state residents to utilize as an access point to get advice for medical conditions. The call-in center will allow an initial review of a health condition and may if authorized by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health, allow reference by the nurse for assistance from a physician. The commissioner will establish protocols and contract with a vendor to administer the on-call center.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.