Legislative Activity

Tell Congress to oppose mandatory prescription writing for veterinarians!

The alleged Fairness to Pet Owners Act (H.R. 3174/S. 1200) has once again surfaced in Congress, but this time, it may have legs, which is why we need your help! This legislation, which Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced on July 24, would require veterinarians to provide clients with written prescriptions for their pets, regardless of the clients’ wishes.

Some of the bills’ advocates argue that veterinarians withhold prescriptions to increase profits, but this claim was not substantiated in a recent Federal Trade Commission report. Clients can already ask for prescriptions, and veterinarians should be honoring that request. In fact, the AVMA’s Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics and its guide on Client Requests for Prescriptions states that veterinarians shall write prescriptions upon request, and a majority of states already have similar laws or policies. This unnecessary bill will cause veterinarians to spend excess time on paperwork, likely at the expense of patient care.

Unfortunately, the politics surrounding this legislation differs from previous years. Despite the significant opposition to this bill, some in Congress have expressed an interest in moving it. Should H.R. 3174 pass out of committee, it would be very difficult to keep the bill from moving forward and potentially getting floor time.

We need your help! Please take a few minutes to sign our alert and urge your congressional officials to oppose this legislation. Also, consider meeting with them on this issue during the congressional recess in August when they’ll be back in their home districts.

Read more about this bill here.

HOUSE

SENATE

  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA): Legislative Director, Mr. Pete Modaff ([email protected])
    • Cantwell sits on the Commerce committee, the committee to which S. 1200 (the Senate version of the bill) was referred when introduced in May 2015.
  • Patty Murray (D-WA): Legislative Director, Mr. Shawn Bills ([email protected])

Take action today! 

Current Legislative Session & Bill Tracking

Current Legislative Session & Bill Tracking

The 2015 Washington State legislature convened on Monday January 12 for a 105-day legislative session. WSVMA’s legislative advocate, Greg Hanon, has been on hand to gather and analyze the numerous bills that may affect veterinary medicine, animal welfare and the business of veterinary practice. If you have a question or concern about one of the bills, be sure to contact the office.

See Reports

The WSVMA Supports these bills:
Senate Bill 5501 – Preventing animal cruelty

House Bill 1131 – Relating to ivory and rhinoceros trafficking

House Bill 1018 – Preventing breed-based legislation

Governor Signs WSVMA immunity legislation

May 15, 2013
Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Substitute Senate Bill 5102, WSVMA’s legislation granting veterinarians immunity from criminal and civil liability for good faith reporting of animal cruelty. Sen. Kirk Pearson, 39th legislative district, was the bill’s sponsor. WSVMA member and representative from the 35th district, Dr. Kathy Haigh, sponsored the House version, HB 1186.

A veterinarian’s immunity will be limited to situations where the veterinarian receives no financial benefit from the suspected animal cruelty case, beyond payment for services rendered prior to making a report of suspected animal cruelty. The “no financial benefit” clause was added to the bill after two convicted animal abusers testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee that veterinarians who report abuse gain financially by making false reports and then profiting from the care of seized animals.

Passage of the bill has been a longtime goal of the WSVMA Animal Welfare Committee and Executive Board. It was originally planned to be introduced during the 2012 legislative session but challenging the Prescription Monitoring law became more critical as veterinary practices struggled to comply with a burdensome new reporting requirement.

The law takes effect July 28, 2013.

Recent Legislative Successes

WSVMA’s Immunity Legislation passes
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 16.52 RCW to read as follows:
A veterinarian lawfully licensed in this state to practice veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry who reports, in good faith and in the normal course of business, a suspected incident of animal cruelty that is punishable under this chapter to the proper authorities is immune from liability in any civil or criminal action brought against such veterinarian for reporting the suspected incident. The immunity provided in this section applies only if the veterinarian receives no financial benefit from the suspected incident of animal cruelty beyond charges for services rendered prior to the veterinarian making the initial report.”

EFFECT: Provides that the immunity does not apply if the veterinarian benefits financially from the suspected animal cruelty, aside from payment for services provided prior to reporting.

WSVMA’s Prescription Monitoring Program legislation signed in to law
Governor Chris Gregoire signed WSVMA’s Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 6105 into law on March 29, 2012, exempting veterinarians from the current Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) requirements and establishing a new program for reporting the dispensing of controlled substances. The new law goes into effect June 7, 2012. Veterinary practices can stop submitting reports as of June 7 while a new program is developed and put into place.

The amended law directs the WS Department of Health (DOH) and the Veterinary Board of Governors to work on the new program. When the WSVMA met with legislative staff at DOH to discuss moving forward, it was agreed that the WSVMA would bring forth a list of recommendations to be considered.

It will take twelve months or more to develop the program’s framework and see it through the public rulemaking process, all but ensuring that reporting will be on hiatus until sometime in 2013. Once the rulemaking is finalized next year, reporting will begin again, only it will likely be on a quarterly basis.

With the new program, reporting will once again be to Health Information Designs, Inc. (HID). There will be an option to report by paper means and the mechanism to do that will be developed along with the other reporting guidelines. One of the biggest frustrations with the current model has been with reporting veterinary information to a system designed for human patients. The WSVMA will work with DOH to determine which client/patient/drug information is appropriate for veterinary practices to report rather than trying to adapt our information to their current fields.

Technician Bill 2470 Signed into Law
The WSVMA bill that changes veterinary technician training made its way to the Governor’s desk on March 18 for signing after passing both the House and Senate. Senate Bill 6745 eliminates on-the-job training for technician licensure as of July 1, 2015, giving those who wish to get practical experience a full five years to complete it before sitting for the national exam. Most importantly, passing the bill allows continued use of the Veterinary Technician National Exam in the state of Washington. Had the bill not passed, graduating technicians or those completing five years of training would not be able to sit for the exam as of the end of 2010.

WSVMA successful in passing legislation – Governor Gregoire signs bill into law
House Bill 1271 Regarding the preparing and administration of drugs by registered or licensed veterinary personnel passed the legislature and was signed into law this afternoon by Governor Chris Gregoire. The WSVMA worked with the Veterinary Board of Governors and the Board of Pharmacy to draft the legislation that closes a loophole in the law that has prevented licensed veterinary technicians the ability to prepare and administer legend drugs and controlled substances under the supervision of a veterinarian. Letters from the WSVMA and the Washington State Association of Veterinary Technicians were sent to Governor Gregoire highlighting the pertinent points of the bill and encouraging her to sign it into law.

Sincere appreciation goes to Dr. Kathy Haigh, veterinarian and state representative who sponsored the bill and lent her time and support in testifying and assisting the WSVMA in its successful passage and Greg Hanon, WSVMA’s Legislative Advocate, who was instrumental in shepherding the bill through the process. Thanks also go to Dr. Debi Wallingford, WSVMA President, Dr. Harmon Rogers from the Veterinary Board of Governors, Department of Health staff, and to Dr. Carrie La Jeunesse, WSVMA President-Elect, who took the time to travel to Olympia to testify before the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources.