Ohio Legislative Update!
Gender-Affirming Care – What Happens Next in Ohio?
Last week, despite strong and consistent advocacy efforts by OSMA and a large coalition of several dozen medical organizations and hospitals, members of the Ohio House of Representatives returned to Columbus in order to vote to overturn Governor DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68. As a reminder, HB 68 would ban gender-affirming care – including use of hormones, puberty blockers, and surgeries – for patients in Ohio under the age of 18. Additionally, the final version contains provisions which would prohibit transgender girls from participating in middle and high school sports. OSMA has been in opposition to HB 68 since it was reintroduced last year, having also opposed its prior iteration, HB 454, in the 134th general assembly.
The legislature passed HB 68 in mid-December and Governor DeWine vetoed the bill on December 29, citing conversations he had with families of transgender youth, along with serious concerns and requests to veto expressed by the medical community, including our coalition.
OSMA policy supports individualized, gender-affirming, evidence-based treatment and clinical practices in caring for transgender and gender minority patients. It also opposes efforts to ban administration of evidence-based care to patients when determined to be clinically indicated by their physician, including the administration of evidence-based gender-affirming care. Our advocacy team was among the medical groups that testified against the bill in the Ohio House Public Health Policy Committee last year.
The override vote held on January 10 was above the three-fifths threshold required to overcome the veto (65-28). This vote also came on the heels of Gov. DeWine’s January 5 executive order which banned gender transition-related surgeries for minors in Ohio and directed the state department of health and department of mental health and addiction services to develop and implement administrative rules for gender-affirming care for individuals under 21.
The Ohio Senate must still vote on the matter of overriding the HB 68 veto, which it is expected to do when Senate members convene at the Statehouse on January 24. Just like in the House, the veto override requires a three-fifths supermajority in this chamber in order to move forward and for the bill to then become law.
As for next steps, OSMA and the coalition are urging members of the Ohio Senate not to override the governor’s veto of HB 68. We encourage OSMA members to contact their local Senator and make the same request. Additionally, both the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services have opened up their new proposed administrative rules on gender transition care for public comment. OSMA will be doing joint comments with several physician specialty organizations expressing concerns for the draft rules. More information to come.
Please stay tuned for updates as the process continues on this issue.
House Passes HB 179 – Vicarious Liability, Statutes of Repose
In addition to its vote to override the gubernatorial veto of HB 68, members of the Ohio House also unanimously voted to pass House Bill 179. This legislation deals with vicarious liability in tort actions, and provides that the tolling of the limitations period during the defendant's absence or concealment does not apply to statutes of repose. OSMA worked closely with the Ohio Hospital Association and the sponsor on this bill, and is pleased that our feedback was received constructively during the committee hearings on HB 179 in the House Civil Justice Committee.
The bill will now move through the legislative process in the Senate, and OSMA will report back on its progress in the coming months.