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NJ Legislative Update: New Law Strengthens Prescription Monitoring Program and Recently Passed Bill Paves the Way for New Surgical and Ambulatory Surgical Centers

By on October 6, 2015 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

On July 18, 2015, Governor Chris Christie signed Senate Bill 1998/2119 (A3062) into law.  The law, which unanimously passed the New Jersey Legislature, revises the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), to provide preventative measures against increased misuse and diversion of prescription pain medications.  Among other provisions, the law requires that pharmacists must submit to the PMP identifying information for any individual, other than the patient for whom the prescription was written, who picks up a prescription if the pharmacist has reasonable belief that the person may be seeking a controlled danger substance (CDS) for any reason other than delivering it for medical treatment.   Likewise, the bill adds a provision requiring the Division of Consumer Affairs to evaluate whether any person is obtaining a prescription in a manner indicative of misuse, abuse, or diversion of a CDS. If there is indication that a person is obtaining a prescription for the same or similar drug from multiple practitioners or pharmacists during the same time period, the Division of Consumer Affairs may provide prescription monitoring information about that person to practitioners and pharmacists and the Division of Consumer Affairs is obligated to evaluate whether any violation of law or regulations, or a breach of a standard of practice by any person may have occurred, including possible diversion of controlled dangerous substances. If the Division of Consumer Affairs determines that such a violation or breach may have occurred, it is required to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency or professional licensing board and provide relevant information for an investigation.  The bill also revises current provisions concerning access to the PMP to automatically register pharmacists and practitioners to participate in the prescription monitoring program as part of their registration to prescribe, dispense, or administer CDS.  Under the bill, a practitioner, or another person who is authorized thereby to access PMP information, pursuant to the bill’s provisions, will be required to consult the PMP when they prescribe a controlled dangerous substance to a patient for acute or chronic pain, and quarterly thereafter if the patient continues to receive prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances for acute or chronic pain.  Most of the aforementioned provisions take effect on November 1, 2015.  Given the increasingly burdensome administrative requirements, pharmacists and providers should ensure that their practices of prescribing or disbursing controlled dangerous substances are in line with the strictures of the new law.

In late June, Senate Bill 2876 (A4476) passed both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature.  The bill, if ultimately signed into law, would permit certain surgical practices and ambulatory care facilities to be exempt from a moratorium on the development of new ambulatory surgery facilities. Specifically, the exemption would allow ambulatory surgery facilities that are jointly owned by a hospital and one or more parties and to ambulatory surgery facilities that are owned by a hospital or a medical school. The law does not explicitly require these hospitals or medical schools to be located in the State, and the Department of Health (DOH) recently concluded that, for the purposes of the exemption, the term “licensed hospital” applies to hospitals licensed in State as well as out of State. As amended, the bill requires that, for the exemption from the moratorium to apply, the ambulatory surgery facility will be required to be owned by a hospital or medical school licensed in New Jersey, or owned by any hospital that is approved to provide ambulatory surgery services at another facility in the State. Because certain hospitals and medical schools located out of the State have already received approval to operate ambulatory surgery facilities under the current law, or have planned facilities that have received DOH approval, the bill will allow these facilities to continuing operation under the moratorium exemption, provided the approval or application for the facility was received by DOH as of March 1, 2015.  While critics of the bill argue that competition is stifled as out-of-state hospitals are effectively retroactively forbidden from owning ambulatory surgery centers in New Jersey, the bill has the support of the New Jersey Hospital Association, and may ultimately lift the freeze on new surgical centers and ambulatory surgical centers.


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