These new laws impacting Tennessee healthcare take effect July 1

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – A new set of laws is set to take effect on July 1 in Tennessee. Amongst the some 200 laws taking effect are bills signed by Gov. Bill Lee that will impact healthcare in the state.

Before July 1, some bills went into immediate effect upon Lee’s signature; for example, the bill allowing armed teachers in the state is already effective.

Below is a look at some of the laws going into effect that will impact healthcare in some way:

  • Those with power of attorney for healthcare decisions cannot be prevented from visiting a patient by prohibiting hospitals from restricting or terminating a power of attorney’s visiting rights. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, some hospitals suspended or revoked a patient’s power of attorney’s right to visit and make healthcare decisions, resulting in many patients passing away without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. Visitors would still be required to follow safety protocols, but they cannot be forced to adhere to any protocols such as having a vaccination or medical procedure done before entering the hospital.
  • A new law gradually phases out the Certificate of Need (CON) permit requirements to provide nearly a dozen healthcare services in the state during the next five years. The Tennessee Health Facilities Commission currently regulates the healthcare industry statewide through the CON program. That process requires a permit to be issued to establish or modify a healthcare institution, facility or service at a designated location.
    • The timeline for the removal of CON permit requirements is as follows:
      • July 1, 2025: Freestanding emergency departments not located within 10 miles of a competing acute care hospital or other freestanding emergency department would no longer need a CON. Additionally, any county without an actively licensed acute care hospital would also not require a CON for any services except rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, hospice, methadone clinics and nursing homes.
      • Dec. 1, 2025: Intellectual disability institutional habilitation facilities, burn units, neonatal intensive care units, magnetic resonance imaging services and positron emission tomography
      • Dec. 1, 2027: Ambulatory surgical treatment centers, linear accelerator procedures and long-term care hospitals
      • Dec. 1, 2029: Open heart surgery
  • People with disabilities can continue gainfully working without losing their health insurance coverage through TennCare by participating in a buy-in program. The law allows enrollees to pay a monthly premium of 5% of their income to receive the care and benefits needed. Previous income restrictions limited the types of work individuals with disabilities could do without losing health coverage.
  • Mental coverage expanded by requiring TennCare to cover mental health services at the same coverage rate for alcoholism and drug-dependent patients.
  • Requirements eliminated of recurring in-person doctor visits for telehealth patients. The law gives providers the discretion as to whether patients are required to meet first in person or thereafter.
  • New diseases are reported from the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP) within three years for newborn screenings. The RUSP is a list of conditions that should be tested for during newborn screening, and this law ensures a quicker timeline for reporting these rare genetic disorders and diseases.
  • TennCare is allowed to cover medical expenses for genetic testing to identify treatments for children with rare diseases. The law offers hope to families by easing the financial burdens of identifying and treating a rare disease by allowing access to testing, potentially saving a child’s life.

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