Think Healthcare Workers Don’t Need to Care About Politics? Think Again!

POSTED on 05/24/2019 by Krista Hinson, MHA; Director of Federal & State Government Relations, SCHA


While most healthcare providers do not go into the profession because they love politics, it is imperative for those in the healthcare industry to stay aware of elections and the legislature in the local, state, and federal governments. Healthcare is one of the most regulated industries in the country. Who is elected to make the laws and which laws they ultimately pass affect the job that hospital workers do each day.

In 2019 alone, the state legislature passed several new laws that affect healthcare.

  • One new law allows physician assistants to practice more autonomously than before, giving them more prescriptive authority and increasing the number of physician assistants that one physician may work with. This is important for healthcare workers to be aware of, and especially important to patients who may have shorter wait times for care or now have increased access to see a mid-level provider.
  • Another new law requires hospitals to report to the Department of Health and Environmental Control when a patient has received an opioid antidote in response to a diagnosed opioid overdose. Hospital emergency departments are expected to know the new law and be compliant with the requirements by January 1, 2021.
  • A tax credit was created this year for physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who serve as clinical preceptors in medically underserved areas. Understanding this new tax law is important for encouraging new providers to serve in this role to expand healthcare access to rural areas, and to make sure those claiming the credit are doing so within the scope of the law.
  • The state budget for 2019-2020 includes important language that will require the Department of Health and Human Services to increase the income limits for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing an opportunity for more children to be covered in South Carolina. This is a big deal, and one that would only be known by paying attention to the legislative process or being involved in grassroots advocacy groups through you Hospital Association or other professional association.

These examples are just a few of the many changes coming to healthcare after the five-month legislative session. Additional laws will be created, and current laws will be changed next year, many of which will affect hospitals, patients, and healthcare providers.

The Hospital Association does the day-to-day advocacy work for hospital employees so they can focus on providing care for patients or supporting the hospital’s functions, but it is important that healthcare workers stay up-to-date on important changes and proposals in the legislature that will impact them. As a future healthcare employee, it’s important to know how some laws will impact the role you would like to pursue as well as how the laws will impact you as a potential patient.

With so many issues going through the legislature each year, the elected officials cannot be an expert on each one of them. That’s why it’s important for those who work in the healthcare field everyday to share their experiences and expertise with the people who will create the laws affecting healthcare. Click here to join the Leadership for Education and Advocacy (LEAd) grassroots group to get weekly updates on legislation in SC and additional information about how to get involved and make a difference in your state and/or local community!