3 AIDS-scrutiny measures in difficulty Doctor-testing bill opposed by panel

March 10, 1992|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- On shaky ground since their introduction this winter, three of the Schaefer administration's AIDS bills are in trouble.

A joint subcommittee is recommending that lawmakers kill the ++ so-called "mandatory testing" bill that would require certain doctors and patients to be tested for the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Physicians and health care workers have opposed the state health department's bill on the grounds that it would be costly and would not stop the spread of AIDS.

The bill would require physicians, dentists and other health care workers who perform invasive surgical or dental procedures to be tested for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.

Patients also would have be tested before invasive procedures, which could include regular teeth cleanings. An HIV test costs from $30 to $100, and patients might have to pay for it. Gov. William Donald Schaefer has been pushing for mandatory testing of health care workers for months.

The work group of the Senate and House environmental committees also is opposing a bill that would require a hospital to ask a patient to take an HIV test at the request of a paramedic, firefighter or police officer who came into contact with the patient's bodily fluids while taking him to the hospital.

Firefighters oppose that bill because they believe it would narrow their ability under current law to find out a patient's HIV status.

The subcommittee is amending a third bill that would allow the state health department to collect the names of people who test positive for HIV.

Siding with the bill's critics, the subcommittee approved an amendment that calls for the use of identification numbers, rather than names, in the data collection. The legislators will continue working on the bill tomorrow morning.

Barbara Samuels of the AIDS Legislative Committee said, "Reporting people by name is going to deter people from seeking testing and early treatment."

Today in Annapolis

10 a.m.: House and Senate convene, State House.

1 p.m.: Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee considers long list of gun bills, including the governor's proposed ban on assault weapons, Room 300, Senate Office Building.

1 p.m.: House Judiciary Committee considers legislation involving security at public schools, Room 120, House Office Building.

There are 28 days remaining in the 1992 General Assembly session.

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