LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS®
RSC (2012-5) Health Care
SB 238/HB 443, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012, submitted by the Administration, but actually from the new Board of Directors of the Health Benefit Exchange. The bill has been strongly supported by the members of the League with suggested amendments. The bills are moving in both houses with amendments and should crossover on March 26. The House amendments have been posted, but the Senate amendments have not, so it is hard to ascertain if the bills will need to go to conference.
SB 234/HB 439 – Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act – These are also Administration bills and set up Health Empowerment Zones in areas where there is a lack of health care. They would pump $4 million into certain underserved medical areas, yet to be determined. The House bill has passed second reader with amendments and the Senate should pass an identical bill before crossover.
HB 1341, Medicaid Sustainability Commission, which would have initiated the formation of a commission to study the status and sustainability of Medicaid and how to fund it in the future has been withdrawn.
SB 229, Health Insurance – Individual and Group coverage – Application of Federal Affordable Care Act, was submitted by Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton for Maryland Insurance Administration, but has been withdrawn. The bill would have added preventive care to the list of specified provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act in the individual insurance market.
Delegate Nathan-Pulliam and Senator Pugh sponsored HB 243/SB 179 – The Kathleen A Mathias Chemo Therapy Parity Act of 2012, named for the late wife of State Senator James Mathias. The bill would make the co-pay and deductibles of oral chemotherapy purchased in a drug store equal to the chemotherapy given in a physician’s office. Identical bills have passed both houses.
HB 1407/SB 784, DHMH – Workgroup on Cancer Clusters and Environmental Causes of Cancer, also a late bill would initiate a workgroup to study the causes of cancer in areas of where there are decided clusters of the disease. Both bills has been voted out of their committees and may have passed over the weekend for crossover.
SB 180, Health Occupations – State Board of Naturopathic Medicine, sponsored by Senator Catherine Pugh and in Senator Joan Carter Conway’s committee, passed out of the committee with amendments on March 19 on a 9-2 vote and went to the Senate. Senator Conway asked to have the bill laid over on second reader Tuesday, so it did not come up for a vote until Wednesday, when it passed. However, significant opposition from the medical community was apparent as third reader approached. On Friday, Senator Conway asked to have the bill recommitted to her committee, which was done. Senator Conway was very unhappy at the outcome and will probably try to have the parties reach a compromise over the summer, although there has been little movement on either side.
HB 470, Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) – Preauthorization of Health Care Services has passed the House and is now in the Senate Finance Committee. It gives the MHCC the authorization to penalize the carrier and Pharmacy Benefit Managers if they don’t move to real-time authorization by the benchmark dates.
The lay midwives bill, HB 1056 – Health Occupations – Licensed Midwives, is similar in its scope to the naturopaths’ bill. It would license midwives who currently are not allowed to practice in Maryland. These midwives perform home births, and there is increasing evidence that they are practicing in the state. At the recent hearing the room was full of the Mennonite community asking to have these midwives licensed. The bill is not likely to pass this late in the session, but there may be further study during the summer to accommodate this group of people.
The sunset review of the Maryland Board of Physicians and the accompanying legislation has been put on hold until the 2013 session to allow an overall review of the Board and its functions ordered by Secretary of Health Joshua Sharfstein.
HB 123, Wireless Communication Devices, Enforcement of Prohibitions on Use While Driving is sponsored by Delegate Clagget was withdrawn. HB 163, Prohibition on Use of Text Messaging – Exceptions, is sponsored by Delegate Arora and would allow voice activated telephone devices. All of these bills are likely to be rolled into was also HB 55, Motor Vehicles – Use of Text Messaging Device While Driving, passed the House and has crossover an is on the Senate floor. Senator Pipkin special ordered the bill over the weekend. It addresses a correction regarding administrative penalties for minors.
SB 213/HB 207, Tanning Devices - Use by Minors, received an unfavorable report in Senate Finance so they are dead for this session. There was a suggested compromise allowing parental consent, but it must not have passed.