On May 16, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the “Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2016" (S. 2932). S. 2932 clarifies that the current practice of physician Medical Directors overseeing care provided by paramedics and other emergency practitioners via “standing orders” is statutorily allowed and protected. S. 2932 essentially mirrors the legislation that Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced in January (H.R. 4365). However, to ensure referral to the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, language was added around the establishment of qualifications of a medical director and language was included that spells out that a controlled substance may be administered by an emergency medical services practitioner via online medical direction (including a verbal order issued by 1 or more medical directors). We believe the House bill covers online medical direction; however, we wanted it to be explicit in the Senate bill. Once both chambers have passed their versions of the bill, the differences will be reconciled before the legislation is sent to the President for his signature.
ACCT and our coalition partners have been working diligently to gain support from additional Members of Congress. As of this writing, as a result of ACCT advocacy efforts, the House bill has over 100 cosponsors! Given the broad support, we anticipate a hearing this summer.