Summary of MVMA Activity During the 2024 Legislative Session

2024 was an emergency session in the Maine Legislature, which usually means a fairly quiet year. Not so this year, though! The MVMA was busy advocating on behalf of veterinarians and veterinary medicine. Below is a summary of the issues that we worked on.

LD 2156, An Act to Authorize the Provision of Emergency Medical Treatment for Certain Dogs
Building on legislation passed in 2018, Rep. Jess Faye submitted  LD 2156 which proposed to clarify that when a law enforcement dog is injured, whether in the line of duty or on a search and rescue mission, that the dog will receive the same medical response as a similarly situated human officer. The intent of the bill was laudable; making sure that canine officers have the best chance to survive an injury. But the original draft language amended the Veterinary Practice Act, which was of concern to the MVMA because it might have opened the door to future amendments to the Practice Act. The MVMA collaborated with the sponsor and law enforcement stakeholders to craft language that would address the needs of the law enforcement and first responder community while at the same time protect the Veterinary Practice Act. The compromise proposal easily passed out of committee and was enacted by the full legislature without debate.

LD 2174, An Act to Protect Consumers from Predatory Medical Credit Card Providers
Given rising medical costs and the issue of medical debt, Senate President Troy Jackson submitted legislation that would have prohibited certain practices associated with medical credit cards--impacting CareCredit and other medical credit lines. LD 2174 would have prohibited a health care provider from offering or arranging for a medical credit card for a consumer or establishing or otherwise completing any portion of an application for a medical credit card on a consumer's behalf, in that health care provider's office, treatment area or other health care setting. It would also have prohibited a health care provider from offering, arranging for or establishing a medical credit card for a consumer that contains a deferred interest provision in the medical credit card contract.  When the bill was printed, it was not clear to the MVMA whether the language would have captured veterinarians or their practices.

The MVMA reached out to the bill's sponsor, Senate President Troy Jackson, through our lobbyists to discuss our concerns about limiting credit lines for veterinary care. The Senate President stated that it was not his intention to capture veterinarians. When Synchrony's lobbyists reached out the MVMA to ask us to oppose the bill, we explained that veterinarians were not intended to be included in the bill and we would testify Neither For Nor Against. By testifying Neither For Nor Against, the MVMA was able to advocate for keeping veterinarians out of the bill without getting involved in the political wrangling. It gave us the opportunity to explain how important the use of CareCredit is to the veterinary world. As a result of the MVMA's engagement, language was added to the final bill to make it clear that veterinarians and their practices were not subject to the law. The bill received a divided report when it was voted on by the committee, with some members supporting and others opposing the overall intent of the bill. Ultimately, the bill died when the House and Senate could not agree. Veterinarians were never included in the language of the bill. 

LD 1537, An Act to Amend the Laws Relating to the Prevention of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution
In 2019, the Maine Legislature passed first in the nation legislation aimed at addressing PFAS contamination and limiting exposure to future PFAS. Due to the breadth and complexity of the law and the burden placed on businesses and the regulatory agencies tasked with implementing and enforcing the law, the legislature has spent the past 4 years trying to address some of the perceived issues with the law. One of those concerns was the use and reporting of PFAS in veterinary products. Stakeholders, including IDEXX and the Animal Health Institute, were able to negotiate a number of exemptions including one for veterinary products. Throughout the months long process, multiple drafts were publicly shared and discussed by the Joint Standing Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources and all iterations contained the veterinary exemption.

At the last committee work session and just prior to the initial vote, the majority of the committee amended the veterinary product exemption, carving-out any product for use on or in animals slated for food production. This change would have meant that beginning in 2032, manufacturers who produce products intended for use on or in food production animals would have been required to register and report those products to the State and failure to do so would have resulted in a ban of those products. Several medications widely used in veterinary medicine would have been impacted. The MVMA immediately began reachout to legislators and working to overturn the committee’s changes. Collaborating with stakeholders and lobbyist/member outreach to targeted legislators, the MVMA was able to reverse the carve-out and restore the full veterinary product exemption. With the full exemption reinstated, the committee unanimously voted LD 1537 and the full legislature agreed, passing the bill without debate.