ST. CROIX -- The Committee on Health, Hospitals, and Human Services, chaired by Senator Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, met Tuesday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room on St. Croix to receive testimony on several pieces of proposed legislations.
Bill No.32-0064 proposed by Senator Dwayne M. DeGraff calls for the amending of the Virgin Islands Code to provide a registry for elderly persons age 65 years old and over who live alone and keep track of their activities if they require health care or assistance.
Senator DeGraff said the intent of the Bill is to easily have access to our elderly in the event of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunami. He added that a registry as proposed is vital for the sake of first resonance.
Attorney Patricia Welcome speaking on behalf of Commissioner Felecia Blyden, Department of Human Services said the department does not support the Bill since such information as it pertains to the elderly already exists.
Todd Patton, Deputy Director for Planning and Preparedness, Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) said as the coordinating agency it stands ready to support a registry developed and maintained by DHS.
According to Patton, VITEMA would be happy to store a backup copy of the registry in each of its Emergency Operations Centers, should the information be required of a natural disaster.
Troy de Chabert-Schuster, State Director, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) said AARP supports the legislation but is concerned about the confidentiality of this registry for the following reasons: (1) The individual’s right to privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1995 and the protection of our seniors from predators.
The Bill was held in Committee for amending purposes.
Bill No. 32-0100 sponsored by Senator Sammuel Sanes amends the Virgin Islands Code to require doctors and physicians to disclose any financial ownership or interest in any medical laboratory within or outside the Virgin Islands and from referring patients to a laboratory in which they have a financial interest.
Dr. Olivine Anne Treasure said one of the disadvantages in passing the Bill is that it supports protectionism, which does not encourage any industry to innovate, modernize, respond, improve, or change its delivery system, It is unfair to those who do innovate and adapt and who generate income and services and provide alternatives for our diverging economy.
Other testifiers on Bill No.32-0100 were Sean Coutsey, Treasure, St. Croix Clinical Lab, and Dr. Arakere Bandigowda Prasad.
The Bill was held in committee until a future date when other pertinent testifiers are present such as the Commissioner of Health.
Bill No.32-0111, sponsored by Senator Sanes amends the Virgin Islands Code to establish September as Virgin Islands Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month and to require an annual proclamation by the Governor.
Committee members held a round of discussion on the Bill and was then voted out of committee with a favorable recommendation to the Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.
Committee members at Tuesday’s meeting were: Chairwoman, Senator Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, Kurt Vialet Marvin Blyden, Dwayne DeGraff, Sammuel Sanes, Janette Millin Young, and Novelle Francis, Jr. and none-Committee members: Senators Alicia “Chucky” Hansen and Positive T.A. Nelson.