Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Scarnati Aide Says Drilling Foes Hijack Act 13 Doctor Provision

One of the chief architects of the state’s new oil and gas law, known as Act 13, says critics are using a section of the law regarding doctors to further their anti-drilling agenda. At issue is a portion of the bill that requires doctors to sign nondisclosure agreements if they need access to proprietary or trade secret information in order to treat a patient who may have come in contact with frack water, or drilling waste water.

Some doctors have raised ethical issues about the provision, calling it a “gag rule.” Both the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health and the Pennsylvania Medical Society have issued statements that doctors will be able to share that information with their patients and public health officials. But a health law expert says the language is too vague.

Drew Crompton is an aide to Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati and helped craft the bill. Crompton says those who are raising questions about the law have an anti-drilling bias and are using it to further their agenda.

“Not to discredt those who are sincerely looking out for the well being of others,” said Crompton, “but I think they’re making a mountain out of a molehill. These allegations are coming from people who don’t appreciate the industry and want to voice their opinion against it.”

Crompton says no lawmakers, whether Democrats or Republicans, raised any issues about the provisions while it was getting debated in Harrisburg. He says the intent of the law is to protect patients, not the industry.

Several public health officials have raised questions about why no one from their field of expertise was at the table while the law was being drafted. But Crompton says everything was vetted through the state’s Department of Public Health.

“No one with a medical degree was at the table, that’s true,” said Crompton. “But to somehow think that this language wasn’t getting vetted through public health officials, I think is mistaken.

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