January 8, 2019
Playbook From The Well…

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

 

January Interim Meetings Update

 

 

AT&T dangles $50 million on small cell technology if legislature approves safeguards

AT&T is ready to spend $50 million in West Virginia for small cell technology Small cell technology, AT&T lobbyist Andrew Feeney told the Joint Committee on Government Operations, allows the company to provide boosted services to areas that already have wireless services but may experience difficulties because of surges. Feeney made the comments at a meeting on Jan. 07.

 

According to AT&T’s website, “Consumer demand for data is growing exponentially and will continue to grow as mobile video streaming becomes even more prominent. This increase in data use requires an increase in wireless network capacity—otherwise, service quality could be disrupted or decline. 

 

“However, wireless providers’ ability to provide additional capacity and faster connectivity speeds to support the data heavy technologies and apps consumers are using in their everyday lives has become constrained by spectrum availability. 

“So, to keep up with these surging demands, operators must change their network architectures to more efficiently use spectrum, and the best path forward is network densification—which means small cells, and plenty of them.”

 

AT&T wants consistency in permitting and applications. It does not want to deal with different requirements across the 135 counties and municipalities where the service may be offered. Proposed legislation will set timelines for issuing permits and institute uniform fees. A total of 21 states have enacted such legislation. Feeney said West Virginia will be left behind in future technological advances if it does not approve such legislation. 

 

Lisa Dooley, executive director of the West Virginia Municipal League, agrees the state needs the technology but said governance and aesthetic safeguards must be in place. Cities and municipalities do not want to give up all oversight for approving expansion into their areas of jurisdiction. Dooley said there needs to be a “look back” to ensure out-of-date technology located on utility poles does not become a local government problem.

 

PERD approves licensure, registration of pharmacy personnel

West Virginia’s legislative auditor’s Performance Evaluation and Research Division gave its blessing to two proposals by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy to extend regulation of pharmacy personnel. Partial approval was given to a third proposal. Before licensing boards establish new licensure requirements, they are required to go through a non-binding “sunrise” application to allow the legislative auditor to weigh in on if the proposals protect the public.

 

On Monday, PERD research manager Michael Midkiff recommended approving licensure for nuclear pharmacy technicians to acknowledge the education, experience and training of the 34 individuals currently practicing as pharmacy technicians in West Virginian’s six nuclear medicine pharmacies. The board will support 2019 legislation creating separate licenses for nuclear pharmacy technicians.

 

PERD approved the board of pharmacy’s request to require registration of all pharmacy personnel. Registration will allow pharmacies to address issues of drug diversion.

 

The third proposal reviewed allows separate licensure for advanced practice pharmacy technicians. These individuals would provide higher-level services than those currently provided by pharmacy technicians, allowing pharmacists more time to provide direct patient care.

 

No state currently has a separate licensure, although nine states have provisions allowing advanced practice. Midkiff urged caution to allow the board “to develop testing, quality control and a clear path forward.” He suggested advanced practice pharmacy technicians be limited to practicing in hospitals and institutional settings as part of a pilot project. The Pharmacy Board opposes the restriction.

 

Beane explains Medicaid school-based services

West Virginia Medicaid pulls down about $15 million annually in Medicaid funds for school-based health services, according to MedicaidCommissioner Cindy Beane. The State Department of Education provides state dollars for the 3:1 Medicaid match She explained Medicaid’s relationship with DoE at a Monday, Jan. 07, meeting of the Joint Committee on Health.

 

To receive Medicaid reimbursement for services, a student must have in place an individualized education plan. Services covered include nursing, occupational therapy, psychological services, speech and language therapy, transportation services (if the transportation is on a specially equipped bus) and targeted case management.

 

Beane said federally qualified health centers and comprehensive behavioral health providers offer school-based services billed outside the money that comes through the DoE. All services offered are detailed in an online manual.

 

 

Election

Court candidates should disavow misleading statements. MetroNews reports, “Candidates for court seats should disavow misleading statements by political action committees, according to the commission overseeing judicial conduct in West Virginia.

 

***

 

Budget looks better. Demands abundant. MetroNews reports, “The state budget looks better this year, but new demands are abundant too.”

 

California cannabis sales mired by debates over regulation. The New York Times reports, “California’s experiment in [marijuana] legalization is mired by debates over regulation and hamstrung by cities and towns that do not want cannabis businesses on their streets.”

 

DC lawmakers focus on West Virginia issues. WOWK reports, “They are gearing up on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for the arrival of the new Congress.

 

“West Virginia lawmakers are zeroing in on issues of great concern to the Mountain State. They include securing the pensions for retired coal miners, as well as expanding broadband internet service and more high-tech options, especially in the state’s rural regions.

 

Florida residents sue Medicaid over in-home health care access. WLRN reports, “Six disabled and elderly Floridians are suing the state over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

“The case involves long wait times of up to 3½ years for access to in-home health care through Medicaid.”

 

Teachers plan Jan. 09 walk-in. WSAZ reports, “The unions that represent … teachers and the school service personnel are planning a walk-in to remind lawmakers they are still unified and ready to fight for what they believe they deserve.”

 

Health

Oregon targets homeless for Hepatitis A vaccinations. Oregon Live reports, “A shift in the way hepatitis A outbreaks happen has Oregon public health officials working to redirect their prevention strategies toward homeless populations  that now represent the most vulnerable group for infection.”

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