Christie’s ‘Pocket Veto’ Kills Bill Requiring Health Workers to Get Flu Shots

Andrew Kitchenman | January 22, 2014 | Health Care
Healthcare measures addressing wide range of issues meet mixed fate at end of legislative session

Credit: Amanda Brown
chris christie
A bill that would have required hospital and other healthcare workers to receive annual flu shots or sign a waiver declining them was one of several healthcare-related measures that Gov. Chris Christie allowed to expire yesterday without signing them.

Christie also “pocket” vetoed bills that would have used projected savings from preventive care to help fund healthcare programs; required medical marijuana to be treated the same as other prescription drugs; allowed the state to stop insurers from cutting funds that pay for home health aides; and increased the amount of loan forgiveness that new doctors could receive when they work in underserved areas.

“Pocket veto” is the term for what occurs when a bill is not enacted because a governor simply declines to sign it before the end of a legislative session.

However, Christie signed other healthcare related bills, including measures establishing a state trauma system; increasing awareness of stillbirths; attempting to reduce cardiac problems among high-school students; and requiring insurers to pay for additional scans for women whose initial screening shows they have high breast density.

The bill requiring the vaccinations,A-2172 (S-1464), would have allowed healthcare workers to opt out by signing a statement declining the flu shots, but would have required hospitals to report how many workers opted out.

The other bills that received pocket vetoes were:

  • A-3289 (S-2710), which would have allowed companies that provide services that reduce healthcare costs to profit from the savings.
  • Bill sponsor Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D-Camden) released a statement yesterday expressing disappointment that the measure didn’t become law and saying that he would work with Christie on a new version of the bill.

  • A-765 (S-1220), which was intended to prevent patients who use medical marijuana from being barred from receiving organ transplants. Under the bill medical marijuana would have been treated the same as any other prescription medication.
  • S-2241 (A-3409), which would have required Medicaid managed care organizations to seek state permission before reducing payments to home health providers.
  • S-162 (A-1269 and A-4507], which would have increased the amount of student loans that new doctors could have forgiven if they chose to practice in underserved areas.
  • The healthcare bills that Christie chose to sign were wide-ranging. They included:

  • A-3978 (S-2832), which requires that new mothers receive information about the pertussis vaccine.
  • A-3558 (S-2606), which regulates facilities that provide “respite care” to children with special needs who normally receive around-the-clock care from their families.
  • S-3027 (A-4500), which establishes a state trauma system and requires a state plan for hospitals and emergency medical services providers to coordinate trauma care;
  • S-2843 (A-4280), which aims to ensure that healthcare providers are aware of the physical and emotional consequences of stillbirths, and to increase state collection of data related to stillbirths.
  • S-2448 (A-3766), which will allow college students leading class trips to give emergency injections to classmates experiencing acute allergic reactions.
  • S-792 (A-2022), which requires insurers to cover ultrasound scans that follow up on mammograms that indicate that women have dense breast tissue, which can obscure breast cancer in mammograms. While radiologists supported the bills, it was opposed by obstetricians, who said it would lead to unnecessary tests to head off lawsuits.
  • S-782 (A-2143), which requires the state Department of Health to review the financial disclosure requirements for hospitals. This bill was reshaped after a conditional veto from Christie. An earlier version would have required for-profit hospitals to publicly report the same financial information as nonprofits.