Budget
Census
Congress - MRA joined a coalition letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in support of full funding for the Census in Fiscal Year 2011.

NCHS
Congress - MRA joined coalition letters to the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of the President's request for $162 million in FY2011 for the National Center for Health Statistics.

Physician Incentives
AZ - Rep. Thomas E. Chabin (D-2) introduced H.B. 2705, which would ban incentives for healthcare practitioners to participate in marketing research. This bill would ban a "gift, fee, payment, or subsidy or other economic benefit" to healthcare practitioners from any manufacturer or wholesaler of prescription drugs, biologics or medical devices who participates in a state healthcare program. Any "gifts" exempted from the ban would have to be publicly reported, along with the manufacturer or distributor's aggregate spending on advertising and marketing. H.B. 2705 would define a "gift" to a healthcare practitioner as "food, entertainment, travel or a payment, honorarium, subscription, advance, service or product sample or anything of value". As marketing research incentives would likely be banned by this legislation, MRA will seek to amend or defeat this H.B. 2705.

CO - Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-29) introduced S.B. 126, the "Pharmaceutical Transparency Act," which would require manufacturers of a drug, medical device, biological product or medical supply for which payment is available under the state Medicaid program or the children's basic health plan to publicly report payments or other transfers of value of over $100 aggregate annually made by the manufacturers to a healthcare practitioner. Specifically, the bill would require information as to the name, address and other identifying information of the healthcare practitioner, the value, dates, and a description of the form and nature of the payment or transfer of value. S.B. 126 would also require manufacturers to disclose whether or not they have adopted procedures to assure adherence to the PhRMA code of conduct for interactions with healthcare professionals. The Act would define "healthcare practitioner" as "a person who is authorized by law to prescribe a covered drug, medical device, biological product or medical supply for an individual and who is licensed to provide, or is otherwise lawfully providing, healthcare to individuals in this state" or any of their employed or contracted supporting staff. "Payment or other transfer of value" would be defined by S.B. 126 as "a transfer of anything of value and includes, without limitation, any compensation, gift, honorarium, speaking fee, consulting fee, travel, service, dividend, profit distribution, stock or stock option grant, or ownership or investment interest."

After extensive discussions with MRA, Sen. Carroll agreed to amend S.B. 126 to protect research incentives, in a similar fashion to the exclusion granted to research incentives in the U.S. Senate version of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, adding that  "payment or other transfer of value" does not include "a transfer of anything of value that is made indirectly to a healthcare practitioner through a third party, other than the applicable manufacturer, in connection with an activity or service in the case where the applicable manufacturer is unaware of the identity of the healthcare practitioner." MRA has endorsed this amended version of the bill, which has passed the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

CT - MRA submitted testimony for a March 1 hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Health on S.B. 270. This legislation, introduced by the Committee on behalf of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, would, among other provisions, require public reporting by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing companies of "the value, nature, purpose and particular recipient of any fee, payment, subsidy or other economic benefit with a value of $50 or more, that the company provides, directly or through its agents, to any covered recipient in connection with the company's sales and marketing activities." Such payments, unfortunately, could include payments to healthcare providers for participation in marketing research. MRA is working to amend or defeat S.B. 270.

HI - Representative Roy M. Takumi (D-36) introduced H.B. 2634, which would require "every pharmaceutical manufacturing company" to publicly report "the value, nature and purpose of any gift, fee, payment, subsidy or other economic benefit" which is more than $25 "provided in connection with detailing, promotional or other marketing activities by the company, directly or through its pharmaceutical marketers, to any physician, hospital, nursing home, pharmacist, health benefits plan administrator, or any other person in the state authorized to prescribe, dispense or sell prescription drugs in this state." H.B. 2634 would define "pharmaceutical manufacturing company" as "any entity that is engaged in the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of prescription drugs, either directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of natural origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis, or any entity engaged in the packaging, repackaging, labeling, relabeling or distribution of prescription drugs." The bill would also define a "pharmaceutical marketer" as "a person who, while employed by or under contract to represent a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, engages in pharmaceutical detailing, promotional activities, or other marketing of prescription drugs in this state to any physician, hospital, nursing home, pharmacist, health benefits plan administrator or any other person authorized to prescribe, dispense or sell prescription drugs." Given our experience with similar legislation and laws in other states, MRA assumes that H.B. 2634 would include reporting of marketing research incentives, so we will seek to amend or defeat the bill.

MN - MRA testified on H.B. 1641 at a joint hearing between the House Commerce and Labor Committee and the Senate Industry and Jobs Committee on January 25 and advocated for excluding marketing research incentives for healthcare practitioners. H.B. 1641 would ban most payments to practitioners from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.

Privacy
Exit Polling
MN - MRA Minnesota Chapter President Gayle Belkengren testified on behalf of MRA at a March 4 hearing on H.F. 3108 before the House Committee on State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections. Current Minnesota law doesn't allow anyone near a voting place "except an election official or an individual who is waiting to register or to vote." H.F. 3108, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-44B), would add to that exception, "or an individual who is conducting exit polling" and define exit polling as "approaching voters in a predetermined pattern as they leave the polling place after they have voted and asking voters to fill out an anonymous, written questionnaire." H.F. 3108 passed the House on March 11 and then passed the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on March 15. MRA endorsed this legislation and will continue to work to see it passed into law.

MN - The Senate Committee on State and Local Government Operations and Oversight passed Senator Sieben's S.F. 2388 on February 22. MRA has endorsed this legislation for legalizing exit polling near voting places in Minnesota and previously discussed it in the February Legislative Update. This bill has been put aside in favor of H.F. 3108 (mentioned above).

Telephone
Autodialers/CATI
KS - The Senate defeated the Robo-call Privacy Act (S.B. 456) (covered in the February Legislative Update) on February 19. MRA is watching carefully, because this very threatening bill can be revived and added to another piece of legislation at any time.

Automated Research
MO - Rep. Paul LeVota (D-52) introduced H.B. 1686, which would subject calls made using an automatic dialing announcing device (ADAD)  to the state do not call law. The bill would define "automatic dialing announcing device" or "ADAD" as "a device or system of devices which is used, whether alone or in conjunction with other equipment, for the purposes of automatically selecting or dialing telephone numbers and disseminating recorded messages to the numbers selected or dialed." H.B. 1686 would explicitly exclude political research calls: "Telephone calls from a person or entity requesting the residential subscriber's personal opinion regarding a public policy matter, political candidate, or issue before the voters or which may come before the voters, where the request for an opinion is made for a bona fide information-gathering purpose." However, non-political research calls using automated means would still be subject to the do not call law, just like telemarketing calls. MRA will seek to amend or defeat H.B. 1686.

MO - Rep. Jake Zimmerman (D-03) introduced H.B. 1834, which would add fax and cell phone numbers to the state do not call registry. More importantly, the bill would forbid most automated research calls by requiring callers using an "automatic dialing announcing device" (ADAD) to not call anyone on the state do not call registry. The bill would also forbid the use of an ADAD unless it is "designed and operated to disconnect within 10 seconds after the subscriber terminates the telephone call." H.B. 1834 would define ADAD as "a device or system of devices which is used, whether alone or in conjunction with other equipment, for the purposes of automatically selecting or dialing telephone numbers and disseminating recorded messages to the numbers selected or dialed." MRA will seek to amend H.B. 1834 to exclude automated research, or to defeat it.

Caller ID
Congress - The Senate passed the Truth in Caller ID Act (S. 30) on February 23. This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (last covered in the August 2009 Legislative Update) would make it "unlawful for any person within the United States [...] to cause any caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value." MRA always recommends a policy of "truth in caller ID" for researchers, so this legislation should have minimal impact on the research profession.

Congress - The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the amended the Truth in Caller ID Act (H.R. 1258) on March 10. This legislation was previously covered in the October 2009 Legislative Update.

MS - The Governor signed "The Caller ID Anti-Spoofing Act" (H.B. 872) into law on March 15. The Act was last covered in the February Legislative Update.

VA - H.B. 215 (covered in the February Legislative Update) passed the House on February 15 after being amended on the House floor. The amendment clarified the specifics of caller ID transmission of concern to MRA, namely that the bill would have required campaign research calls to disclose the name of the candidate or committee sponsoring the calls in the caller ID display. This would have inserted serious bias into political polls. Thankfully, the sponsor, Delegate Alexander, amended the bill to clarify that such calls could display the name of the entity conducting the calls, rather than the sponsor. MRA always recommends a policy of "truth in caller ID" for researchers, so this legislation should now have minimal impact on the research profession.

Telemarketing/Sales/Non-Research Activities
Mail
Congress - The House passed the "Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act" (H.R. 4621) on March 10. This bill was covered in the February Legislative Update.

Spyware
NY- Assembly Member Darryl C. Towns (D-54) introduced the "Computer Spyware Prevention Act" (H.B. 6419), which would prohibit the installation, transmission and use of computer software that, collects personally identifiable information or takes control of a computer in intentionally deceptive fashion. Because it only targets intentionally deceptive or illegitimate activities, H.B. 6419 would have minimal impact on the research profession.

Telemarketing
MS - The Governor signed H.B. 181 into law on March 15. This new law delays the expiration of the Mississippi Telephone Solicitation Act from July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013. Because it is only concerned with telemarketing, this law will have minimal impact on survey and opinion research.

WY - The Governor signed S.F. 57 (covered in the February Legislative Update) into law as Chapter 88. This new law prohibits telemarketers from "willfully" making or causing to be made "any unsolicited telephonic sales call to any unpublished cellular telephone number." The law defines "unpublished cellular telephone number" as a cell phone number "That has not been requested by the subscriber to be published in any telephone directory or any list of telephone service subscribers" and "Whose prefix has been determined by the Wyoming public service commission to be primarily for cellular telephone service." Since it only affects telemarketing, this law should have minimal impact on the research profession.

Time of Day Restrictions
RI - Rep. Deborah Fellela (D-43) introduced H.B. 7514, which would prohibit debt collectors from placing "telephone calls to any person on a Sunday." This bill should have minimal impact on the research profession.