SENATE, No. 876

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2014 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

Senator  RICHARD J. CODEY

District 27 (Essex and Morris)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires hospitals and health care professionals to offer hepatitis C testing to certain individuals.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning hepatitis C testing and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  As used in this section:

     “Hepatitis C diagnostic test” means a laboratory test that detects the presence of hepatitis C virus in the blood and provides confirmation of whether the individual tested has a hepatitis C infection.

     “Hepatitis C screening test” means a laboratory screening test that detects the presence of hepatitis C virus antibodies in the blood.

     b.    A general hospital licensed pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et seq.), or a health care professional licensed pursuant to Title 45 or 52 of the Revised Statutes, shall, when providing a health care service to an individual who was born between 1945 and 1965, offer a hepatitis C screening test to that 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.

     c.    If an individual accepts the offer for a hepatitis C screening test and the screening test is positive, the hospital or health care professional shall either offer the individual follow-up care or refer the individual to a health care provider who can provide follow-up care.  The follow-up care shall include a hepatitis C diagnostic test.

     d.    The offering of a hepatitis C screening test under this section shall be culturally and linguistically appropriate in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of Health.

     e.    This section shall not affect the scope of practice of any health care professional or diminish any authority or legal or professional obligation of any health care professional to offer a hepatitis C screening or diagnostic test, or to provide services or health care for the individual who is subject to a hepatitis C screening or diagnostic test.

     f.     The Commissioner of Health shall evaluate the impact of the provisions of this section 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.  No later than January 1, 2016, the Commissioner of Health shall submit a report of the evaluation to the Governor, and to the Legislature pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1)


     2.    The Commissioner of Health, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall adopt rules and regulations necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect on the first day of January next following the date of enactment, and shall expire and be deemed repealed on January 1, 2020, except that the Commissioner of Health may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance of the effective date as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires hospitals and health care professionals to offer hepatitis C testing to individuals born between 1945 and 1965. 

     Specifically, a hospital or health care professional that provides health care services to an individual who was born between 1945 and 1965 would be required to offer 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 the results of the screening test are positive, the hospital or health care professional 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 offering of a hepatitis C screening test must be culturally and linguistically appropriate in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of Health.

     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 January 1, 2016. 

     The bill is to take effect on the first of January next following the date of enactment, and is to expire on January 1, 2020.

     In August 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report detailing birth cohort testing guidelines that identified baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965) as being at risk for hepatitis C.  In the United States, an estimated 2.7 to 3.9 million people are living with hepatitis C, and 75 percent of infected adults are people born between 1945 and 1965.  Although effective treatments are available to clear hepatitis C virus infection from the body, most individuals with the virus do not know they are infected and do not receive needed care and treatment.  Hepatitis C testing is therefore an important first step toward improving health outcomes for those individuals.