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Healthcare Roundup: Demand Dropping for Traveling Nurses, Decriminalization of Fentanyl Test Strips & More

May 13, 2022

Tide Turns for Traveling Nurses

During the pandemic traveling nurses earned double, even triple what staff nurses did. But with state and federal coronavirus relief now drying up, travel nurse contracts are disappearing, and hospitals across the nation are focusing more on the recruitment of full-time nurses. According to the staffing agency Aya Healthcare, demand for traveling nurses dropped by a third in the month that ended April 10. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

Fentanyl Test Strips Decriminalized in More States

The governors of New Mexico and Wisconsin have signed bills this year allowing the use of test strips that detect the presence of fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid behind a surge of fatal drug overdoses across the nation. Lawmakers in Alabama, Georgia (HB 1175), and Tennessee have recently passed legislation that would do the same. But Florida lawmakers rejected a bill this year that would have decriminalized the test strips there, and fentanyl testing devices remain illegal in roughly half of the states under drug paraphernalia laws enacted decades ago. (CNN, STATE NET)

DC, Chicago Take Action in Preparation for Post-Roe World

A bill introduced in the D.C. council would bar the city from cooperating with any criminal investigation led by prosecutors from another state of an individual who obtained or performed an abortion in the District. Chicago is also allocating $500,000 to expand abortion access. (DCIST, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Push for Healthcare Worker Protections Moves to U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) has introduced the Senate companion to a House bill passed last year requiring healthcare and social service employers to implement workforce violence prevention plans. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act has strong support from nurses’ unions who say workplace violence was a problem even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the bill could face strong opposition from hospitals. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

Federal Court to Decide How Much Pharmacies Owe OH Counties over Opioid Crisis

A federal court hearing got underway last week in Cleveland to determine how much CVS, Walgreens and Walmart will have to pay the Ohio counties of Lake and Trumbull for the pharmacy chains’ part in the problems caused in those counties by the opioid epidemic. In November a jury decided the pharmacy companies were culpable for dispensing excessive amounts of the pain pills in the two counties, marking the first time that U.S. pharmacies have been held accountable for the opioid crisis. (MODERN HEALTHCARE)

SC Senate Advances Medical Freedom Bill

The South Carolina Senate passed a bill (HB 4776) that would protect doctors, nurses, and healthcare facilities that deny non-emergency procedures on moral or religious grounds from lawsuits. The bill will need to return to the House for approval of amendments made in the Senate before going to Gov. Henry McMaster (R). (POST AND COURIER [CHARLESTON], STATE NET)

AK AG Sues Drug, Pharmacy Companies over Insulin Prices

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) has filed a lawsuit against drug companies Nova Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly and pharmacy companies Express Scripts, Caremark, and Optum for allegedly conspiring to drive up the cost of insulin in the state. Rutledge said insulins that used to cost $20 in the 1990s now list for $300 to $700, putting them out of reach for many residents. (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE [LITTLE ROCK])

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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