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EMS Workers Offered Bonus

This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, whose district includes Giles, Lewis, Maury and Marshall counties.

The 113th General Assembly has adjourned, and it was a very successful session.

We have taken measures for Tennessee to be a better place to live, work and to raise a family in. Some laws passed this session dealt with healthcare.

Training Bonus for EMS.

Emergency Medical Services personnel must receive from the board of emergency medical services an $800 pay supplement for completing the 40-hour in-service training course besides their regular salary, effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Permanent COVID-19 Provisions.

This law amends several provisions of the code related to making permanent provisions, enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, that had sunset provisions.

These include exemption standards for employers with a mandatory vaccine policy and COVID-19 liability protections for health care, business, and education.

Immunity for Drug Overdose.

Regarding immunity for a drug overdose, previously the statute prevented the arrest, charge or prosecution of a person if the violation resulted from seeking medical assistance for self or another experiencing a first drug overdose.

This law has been amended so that the immunity from being arrested, charged, or prosecuted may be applied for a person who experiences subsequent drug overdoses at the discretion of the responding law enforcement officer or the district attorney general's office.

Possession of Marijuana Statement to Health Care Professional.

This law adds a section regarding the admissibility of evidence for statements made to certain health care providers.

A person's statement regarding the person's use or possession of marijuana to a pharmacist, physician, physician assistant, nurse, or nurse practitioner made in the course or scope of the person's medical care, to obtain medical advice on possible adverse effects of marijuana use in combination with other medications or medical treatment, is not admissible as evidence in any criminal trial, hearing, or proceeding in which the person is a defendant; provided, that the person may waive this prohibition and request the statement be admitted as evidence.

Medical Procedures for Sexual Identity.

This law prohibits a medical procedure enabling the minor to identify with, or live inconsistent with the minor’s sex or treat discomfort from a discordance between the minor’s sex and sexual identity.

Medical procedure may be surgical or puberty blocker or hormone. There are exceptions for treatment of congenital defect, precocious puberty, physical injury, or procedures begun before July 1, 2023.

This prohibition may be enforced by private right of action brought within 30 years or action brought by the Attorney General within 20 years.

Local Government Funding of Abortions.

The law amends the Code to prohibit counties, municipalities and metropolitan governments from expending funds to assist a person in obtaining an abortion.

This prohibition includes expending funds in a health benefit plan or for travel to a state where abortion is legal.

Payment of Health Care Services Out of Pocket.

Sponsored by both chambers’ speakers, the law amends the insurance code.

It authorizes an enrollee in a healthcare plan to choose to pay for healthcare services out-of-pocket from an out-of-network provider.

The enrollee must send documentation to the health carrier if the enrollee negotiates for a lower cost for healthcare services than the average allowed amount paid by the carrier to a network provider for a comparable service, and the enrollee pays for healthcare services out-of-pocket.

It requires a health carrier that receives documentation to count the full amount that the enrollee paid out-of-pocket toward the enrollee's deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or other cost-sharing amount, if: (1) the healthcare service is included under the enrollee's insurance plan; and (2) the enrollee negotiated for a lower cost for the healthcare service than the average allowed amount paid by the carrier to network providers for that comparable healthcare service.

The amount counted toward an enrollee's out-of-pocket deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or other cost-sharing amount must not exceed the total amount that the covered person is required to pay out-of-pocket during a contractually agreed upon period of time for healthcare services that are included under the covered person's insurance plan. This does not carry over once a new contract or agreement period for the insurance plan begins.

Finally, it amends the “Right to Shop” Act by reducing from one year to 30 days, the time in which a carrier's interactive member portal or toll-free phone number must allow an enrollee seeking information about the cost of a healthcare service to estimate out-of-pocket costs and compare the average allowed amount paid to a network provider for the procedure or service under the enrollee's health plan, effective July 1, 2023.

Coverage of Screening Mammograms.

This law requires a health plan that covers a screening mammogram to cover for diagnostic imaging and supplemental breast screening without imposing cost sharing on the patient.

The requirement applies to a high deductible health benefit plan with a health savings account only after the plan enrollee has satisfied the required minimum deductible, except with respect to preventive care. It takes effect 90 days after becoming law.

Immunization Exemption for Home School.

This law will exempt home school students from immunization requirements applicable to students attending a school, nursery school, kindergarten, preschool, or childcare facility.

It also removes the requirement that home school parents submit proof of their child’s vaccine to the local director of schools unless the home school student participates in a local education (LEA)-sponsored interscholastic activity or event or an LEA-sponsored extracurricular activity.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, by calling 615-741-3100, calling toll free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100 or faxing 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald ,TN., 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823 and email: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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