A proposed bill in the Iowa House will force a healthcare provider to be in attendance for all varsity sports, in an effort to prevent concussion injuries in high school.
House File 17, created by Representative Megan Jones (R, District 2) will demand “certain emergency medical procedures training requirements for school coaches and assessment and reporting of potential concussions or brain injuries in certain extracurricular athletic contests,” stated on the proposed bill.
If signed into legislation, the bill will require all extracurricular athletic events to have a licensed healthcare provider in attendance. The Iowa High School Athletic Association website states, “A licensed health care provider…should evaluate a student suspected of having a concussion or brain injury on the same day the injury occurs.” This means schools will require a health care provider to evaluate students once a head injury occurs, but don’t require them to be at the athletic events. House File 17, will require health care providers to be in attendance at every extracurricular varsity athletic event.
Although the bill has already passed through the subcommittee, Emily Piper, lobbyist for the Iowa Association of School Boards, says that the main issue she sees with the house file revolves around finances.
“The biggest issue issue is cost. When this was proposed last session, I don’t remember the exact amount, but I do remember it to be pretty hefty,” Piper explained.
Piper, along with other lobbyists, are also concerned with the lack of resources that rural schools will have if the proposed bill continues through the House.
“Urban and suburban schools are already putting this action into play,” Piper said. “Rural schools don’t have the money or resources to have a licensed healthcare provider at every athletic event.”
Despite the concerns, some lobbyists are for the bill, saying that it’s bringing attention to an issue that needs to be addressed. James Obradovich, lobbyist for the Iowa Nurses Association and Iowa School Nurses Organization is in full of support for the bill.
“I, along with my clients, am grateful for this proposed bill to put a spotlight on preventing concussions in sports,” Obradovich said.
Obradovich understands that some are concerned with the potential cost of the proposed piece of legislation, but he’s confident a new amendment, created on February 21, will help solve some of those issues.
“This proposed bill has been through a few sessions already,” Obradovich explained. “With the addition of the new amendment, there’s now great support for it on both sides of the house.
Jones (R, District 2) is aware of the concerns of cost for the bill, but knows there’s options to assist rural and smaller schools.
“To help defray the costs associated with this we are encouraging schools to look toward free options. Having a parent that is a doctor on the field is probably the most common example. Spencer Hospital provides these services for free for many surrounding schools,” Jones explained.
“We are looking at easing the regulations with education funding/budgeting to allow school districts to use monies from funds to pay for these services.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the amount of concussions has doubled in the last 10 years. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the amount of emergency room visits for concussions in kids ages 8 to 13 years old. The percent of concussions among teens has risen 200 percent over the last decade.
“At the end of the day, an athlete should not have a life altering injury because someone said it was too expensive to have a trained person pull them from the game,” Jones said.
House File 17 was passed by the Education subcommittee on February 21. The vote was eight to six and followed along party lines. Despite the close vote, Jones, and others, remain confident about the bill moving forward.
“I am hopeful this bill will move forward. It has already passed through subcommittee and survived the funnel process.” Jones explained.
“I am optimistic about the bill at this time. I don’t even want to think about it not passing through,” Obradovich added.
The bill added an amendment in regards to the financial issue, proposed by some lobbyists, and passed through committee on March 2.