Today's Veterinary Business

OCT 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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44 Today's Veterinary Business Community Community POLITICS & POLICY By Mark Cushing, JD It's October, schools are back in session and politics are in full campaign mode with the off-year elections. Here are notes and updates on most of the items we've been following all year. The winds of change As 2019 approaches, several critical matters — from the Fairness to Pet Owners Act to opioid abuse to telemedicine — remain unresolved. 1 2 3 4 Fairness to Pet Owners Act This bill has hung around Congress since September 2010 and still hasn't gained a hearing in the Senate or House. You will recall that "Fair- ness" is the legislation that attempts to drive the pet medications business from veterinary prac- tices to big-box retailers and online pharmacies. The bill would give the Federal Trade Commission legal authority over all U.S. veterinary practices, establish the right of Congress to intervene in veterinary-client-patient relationships and man- date that no prescription be provided to a client without the veterinarian first giving a written prescription, whether requested or not. Despite widespread fears in 2010 that Walmart and other big-box retailers would roll over the veterinary industry in Congress, we won. How? By explaining to members of Con- gress what the bill would do to veterinary prac- tices and how pets would be harmed if the link between veterinarians and pets was weakened. Here is the latest news: First, the act's lead Republican sponsor in the House, New York Rep. Chris Collins, was indicted in August on insider-trading charges and removed from the Energy and Commerce Committee. He is not seeking re-election. Second, the Senate battle for party con - trol remains too close to call. Reminder that if Democrats take control, then New York Sen. Chuck Schumer becomes majority leader. He is a Fairness sponsor in the Senate, so that means the Fairness bill would get a hearing. The presi- dent's party almost always loses seats in his first off-year election, and Donald Trump's standing is shaky by any measure. Nevertheless, Democrats are defending 24 seats and Republicans only nine. For this last reason, I give an oh-so-slight edge to Republicans, which means no Fairness committee hearing. Hospital Unionization You will recall from past Today's Veteri- nary Business stories that the National Veterinary Professionals Union (NVPU) was formed and is attempting to organize clinics across the country at the staff level below veterinarians. While this is news, the headline is that the NVPU has teamed up with the International Longshore and Ware- house Union for financial, management, political and organizing support. This changes every- thing, as the prize of a share of NVPU dues from members is sure to motivate the longshoremen, a strong union with a long history. Two union votes, in San Francisco and Seattle specialty practices, were won by the longshoremen/ NVPU, and one Northwest vote is under review. Stay tuned. Veterinary Nurse Initiative The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America is driving the initiative to create a uniform title for credentialed vet techs who graduated from an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited program and passed the national board examination adminis- tered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. The new title would be registered veterinary nurse. The first state considering passage is Ohio, where the House and Senate have the legislation under review. The results are expected in late November or December. NAVTA hopes to move forward in four or five other states in 2019. Opioids and Veterinarians National and state interest in the opioid crisis continues to grow as new data appears almost weekly about the scale of abuse and deaths. A recent survey of 189 veterinarians, conducted by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health, found that 13 percent reported "they had seen a client who they believed had intentionally injured a pet, made them ill or made them appear unwell to obtain drugs." Pressure is building in many states to change the manner in which any medical pro- vider handles opioids. Veterinarians have been successful in most states in remaining outside of Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) systems run by state departments of health for human doctors or dispensers. Thirty-one states have PMP laws or regulations on the books, but veterinarians are exempt. Seventeen states in some measure include all providers, including veterinarians. The states with legislation under consideration are Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Lou- isiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn- sylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

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