LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS®
RSC (2012-6) Health Care
The Health Benefit Exchange bill (SB 238/HB 443) passed and has been signed by the Governor. The bills create marketplace rules for the operation of the Health Insurance Exchange. Maryland will be the first state to establish the Exchange required by the Accountable Care Act. Maryland is moving faster than most states on complying with the ACA.
SB 234/HB 439 - Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012, has also been signed by the Governor. It will be instrumental in addressing health disparities and underserved areas. The purpose of the bill will be to reduce disparities, improve outcomes, and reduce hospital admissions, readmissions and reduce cost. The bill will establish Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ) and the funding is not dependent on passage of the budget. Health care entities will be eligible for loan reductions, income tax credits under certain conditions and criteria. Both the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) and the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council (MHQCC) will have to develop performance criteria and standards. This bill could have significant impact throughout the state and is likely to bring $4 million into the state’s health care market.
Wrapped up in the funding part of the budget that was not passed was increased funding for Medicaid reimbursement of the E&M codes. At Sine Die, the House had agreed to the Senate version of the bill, so the increased reimbursement will only benefit primary care physicians. However, unless there is a special session to fully fund the budget, there will be no increase. The increase would have brought matching funds from the Federal government.
HB 470/SB 540, MHCC – Preauthorization of Medical Services and Pharmaceuticals was the foremost bill on the MedChi legislative agenda this year, as physicians find the process of preauthorization not just onerous but expensive. The bill is on the Governor’s desk ready for his signature. Carriers and Prescription Benefit Managers will have to move steadily toward electronic preauthorization by 2016. The bill gives the MHCC the authority to impose regulations, if necessary, and to enforce the compliance dates. The MHCC must also submit progress reports each year to the legislature with the first report due next March. The MHCC must also convene a stakeholders meeting by this October to review progress in reaching the benchmarks in the MHCC report on preauthorization and in the bill.
SB 179/HB 243 – Kathleen A. Mathias Chemotherapy Parity Act of 2012, passed and has been signed by the Governor. The co-pays for chemotherapy drugs purchased in the pharmacy will now be the same as those given in the oncologist’s office.
There were several public health issues on the agenda this year. The child safety seat bill, HB 313/SB 185 passed with only the height requirements remaining. Rear facing seats for children until two years of age will go into effect in Maryland when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations are revised. They are currently in the process of revising these regulations.
The Tanning bill, SB 213/HB 207, died in the Senate Finance Committee on a tie vote of five to five. This is actually closer than the bill has progressed in past several years.