SENATE HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND SENIOR CITIZENS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

SENATE, No. 1279

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  FEBRUARY 29, 2016

 

      The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Senate Bill No. 1279.

      As amended by the committee, this bill requires hospitals and health care professionals who are not employed by nursing homes or other long-term care facilities to offer hepatitis C testing to individuals born between 1945 and 1965, and it requires nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, as well as the health care professionals employed thereby, to offer to arrange for the provision of hepatitis C testing to individuals born between 1945 and 1965, either by setting up a screening test appointment with an appropriate health care professional or general hospital, or by arranging for a mobile laboratory or other laboratory site to provide the screening test.

      Pursuant to the bill’s provisions, when providing health care services to an individual born between 1945 and 1965, a hospital or a health care professional (not employed by a nursing home) would be required to offer a hepatitis C screening test to the individual, and a nursing home or other long-term care facility, or a health care professional employed thereby, would be required to offer to arrange for the provision of a hepatitis C screening test to the individual, unless the health care professional who has primary responsibility for the treatment and care of the individual reasonably believes that the individual:  (1) is being treated for a life threatening emergency; (2) has previously been offered or has been the subject of a hepatitis C screening test; or (3) lacks capacity to consent to a hepatitis C screening test.

      If an individual accepts an offer under the bill, and the results of the hepatitis C screening test are positive, the person or entity performing the test would be required to provide appropriate follow-up care, including a confirmation test, or refer the patient to a health care professional to provide follow-up care.

      The bill requires an offer that is made under its provisions to be culturally and linguistically appropriate, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of Health.

      The bill further specifies that the general informed consent to medical care, which has been provided by a person who is offered a hepatitis C diagnostic or screening test under the bill’s provisions, will constitute sufficient consent for such test, and no additional or separate consents, or any related documentation, will be required.

      The bill authorizes the commissioner, in consultation with the Public Health Council in the Department of Health, to adopt regulations permitting any laboratory site, which has a current Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments Certificate of Waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, to perform rapid point-of-care hepatitis C tests licensed by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

      The bill requires the Commissioner of Health to evaluate the impact of the bill with respect to the number of individuals who are screened for hepatitis C and the number of individuals who have accessed care following a positive test, and to report to the Governor and the Legislature no later than one year after the date of enactment.

      The bill would take effect on the first of January next following the date of enactment, and section 1 of the bill would expire on January 1 of the fifth year next following the date of enactment.

      The committee amended the bill to:

      –    specify that the general informed consent to medical care, which has been provided by a person who is offered a hepatitis C diagnostic or screening test under the bill, shall constitute sufficient consent for such test, and that no additional or separate consents, or any related documentation shall be required;

      –    clarify, consistent with the foregoing amendment, that a hepatitis C test need not be offered to a person if the health care professional having primary responsibility for the person’s treatment and care reasonably believes that the person lacks capacity to provide general consent to medical care; and

      –    make a technical correction.