2018 Legislative Victories
Consumer Health First has consistently worked with our state's elected officials, policy makers, partner organizations and others to advance our mission of health equity through access to high-quality, comprehensive, and health care for all Marylanders. The impact of our work is evident at all levels - legislation, policy, regulation and implementation.
This year's General Assembly Session (January 10 - April 9) was no exception. Consumer Health First had wins on both of its high-priority bills - one to strengthen Maryland's process for the review of health insurance rates and the other to study a Medicaid Buy-In option. We are extremely grateful to the sponsors of these bills -Senator Thomas "Mac" Middleton (D-28), Senator Brian Feldman (D-15) and Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-16) In addition, of the 3,100 bills considered in this Session we provided testimony on many that had implications for consumers' access to health care services or related matters.
Click on the bill number to go directly to the bill summary, details, and history.
While neither of our bills made it through intact, the outcome was exactly what we had wanted and a win for consumers.
- HB 1312 (SB 878) - Medicaid Buy-In Task Force - The bill called for a Task Force to study the potential of creating a Medicaid Buy-In, or public option, that would provide more affordable coverage than that currently available in the private market. We are extremely pleased that, in the end, the study was assigned (HB1782) to the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission. Of particular importance is thecommitment from the Co-Chairs, Senator Brian Feldman (D-15) and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-21) to establish a separate workgroup for this study and to work with CHF on its membership and charge.
- HB 134 (SB 174) - Health Insurance – Health Benefit Plan Premium Rate Review Process While this bill did not pass its intent was achieved with thecommitment from the Insurance Commissioner to incorporate into the rate review process the specific factors that we had cited in our legislation. These are critical to create more fair and accurate analysis of insurance carriers proposed rate requests.
Governor Hogan has signed this into law as an emergency measure. It authorizes the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, in consultation with the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, to estabish a Reinsurance Program and to submit a State Innovation Waiver application under §9-1332 of the Affordable Care Act to seek Federal pass-through funding and to establish a reinsurance program. The Waiver will be submitted in mid- to late-May and, if successful will be designed to bring down insurance premiums by providing funding to high-cost enrollees.
Consumer Health First supported this legislation: Read our testimony
HB 1782 / SB 387 - Health Insurance - Health Care Access Program - Establishment (Maryland Health Care Access Act of 2018)
Governor Hogan has also signed this bill which provides state funding for the Reinsurance Program. Given the challenges of ensuring consistent and sufficient funding for the Program to assure greater affordability of health insurance the law also requires the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission to conduct a series of studies, one of which is the Medicaid Buy-In.
HB 994 (SB 774) - Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Family Planning Services
Requires the Department of Health to apply for a state plan amendment to the family planning program that:
- provides family planning services, subject to state budget limitations, to individuals up to 250% of the poverty level as allowed by federal law,
- does not impose age limitations on who may receive family planning services,
- establishes presumptive eligibility for enrollment, and
- exempts the family planning program from federal coordination of benefits requirements if authorized under federal law.
Uncodified language requires the Department of Health to establish a workgroup of interested stakeholders to: 1) advise the department on ways to streamline the enrollment process through presumptive eligibility and use the program to encourage eligible individuals to enroll in full health insurance coverage through Medicaid or another plan, and 2) make recommendations to ensure that all program participants have access to the full range of contraceptive options appropriate for the participant.
Coverage of 12-Months Dispensing: Also requires MCHIP and Medicaid to provide coverage for a single 12-month dispensing of prescription contraceptives. Currently law provides for 6 months coverage.
Consumer Health First supported this legislation: Read our Testimony.
HB 736 (SB 576) - Pharmacy Benefits Managers - Pharmacies and Pharmacists - Information on and Sales of Prescription Drugs
Allows pharmacists to tell consumers if it would be cheaper to purchase a prescription without insurance coverage.
Consumer Health First supported this legislation: Read our Testimony here.
HB 1024 (SB 986) - State Employee and Retiree Health and Welfare Benefits Program - Contraceptive Drugs and Devices and Male Sterilization
Requires the State Employees Health Plan to adopt provisions of the Contraceptive Equity Act as well as any future changes to contraceptive coverage laws.
Consumer Health First supported this legislation. Read our Testimony here
SB 29 - State Government - Websites - Language Access
Strengthens the requirement for most state agencies, including the Department of Health, to provide equal access versions of their websites in certain languages spoken by limited English proficient populations.
- Languages are included if spoken by a population that constitutes at least 0.5% of the State population.
- Currently state agencies may take “reasonable steps to provide equal access” to web content for limited English proficient populations. The bill removes the “reasonable steps” language.
Consumer Health First supported this legislation: Read our Testimony
HB 716 (SB 266) - Maryland Health Care Commission – Mortality Rates of African American Infants and Infants in Rural Areas – Study
Requires the Maryland Health Care Commission, in consultation with the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities and interested stake holders, to study the mortality rates of African American infants and infants in rural areas. The Commission must report its findings and recommendations, including draft legislation establishing a permanent council on infant mortality in the State to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and the House Health and Government Operations Committee by June 30, 2019.
SB 284 - Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Dental Coverage for Adults
Requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program, under certain circumstances, to provide limited dental coverage for adults beginning on January 1, 2020, and subject to certain limitations; requiring the Maryland Department of Health, in consultation with certain stakeholders, to study and recommend ways to structure adult dental coverage so as to balance fiscal constraints with the dental needs of enrollees; and requiring the Department to report to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before January 1, 2019.
Consumer Health First supported this legislation: Read our Testimony here
SB 1056 - Rural Health Collaborative Pilot
Establishes a “Rural Health Collaborative Pilot” in the mid-shore region of the state (includes Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties) to:
- build a rural health system to enhance access to and utilization of health care services to: provide health care, align with the state’s Medicare waiver, and improve population health,
- mediate disputes between stakeholders,
- assist in collaboration among health care service providers in the mid-shore region,
- increase awareness among county officials and residents regarding the health status, health needs, and available resources in the mid-shore region, and
- enhance rural economic development in the mid-shore region.
The bill aims to achieve the above goals through the establishment of “rural Health complexes” which are defined as community-based ambulatory care settings that integrate primary and other health care services determined to be essential by the collaborative with input by the community, and determined to be sustainable by the collaborative.
Consumer Health First supported this legislation: Read our Testimony here
Establishes the State Community Health Worker Advisory Committee; requires the Advisory Committee to advise the Maryland Department of Health on certain matters relating to the certification and training of community health workers; requires the Department to adopt certain regulations for accrediting community health worker training programs; requires the Department to adopt regulations relating to the certification of community health workers; etc.
HB 946 - Long-Term Care Insurance - Nonforfeiture Benefits
Requires carriers to provide a nonforfeiture benefit under long-term care policies if:
- The long-term policy is at least 10 years old
- Has paid in full all premiums
- The policy is terminated by the policy holder within 12 months after receiving a notice of premium increase
The nonforfeiture benefits must be at least the value of all premiums paid and adjusted for inflation.
The purpose of the bill is to make the health information exchange into a tool for providers to check medication history. To accomplish this, the bill requires dispensers to submit prescription drug information to the Health Information Exchange and allows health care providers to access patient medication history, including those by another provider.
SB 111 - Maryland Health Benefit Exchange - Criminal History Records Checks - Contractors With Access to Federal Tax Information
Authorizes the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to perform criminal history background checks to determine whether contractors who work with the exchange may access federal tax information.
HB 1400 - State Employee and Retiree Health and Welfare Benefits Program - Employees of Qualifying Organizations
Alters the definition of "qualifying nonprofit organization" to authorize nonprofit organizations to qualify for participation in the State Employee and Retiree Health and Welfare Benefits Program and establishes a Task Force to Study Cooperative Purchasing for Health Insurance.
HB 1132 (SB 858) - Health Insurance - Access to Local Health Departments
Requires health insurance carriers to cover services provided through local health departments, including behavioral health care services. Also requires a carrier’s access plan to include information on its efforts to include local health departments in its network. This bill addresses issues that Consumer Health First and others identified in ensuring consumer's full access to both somatic and behavioral health care. The bill takes effect January 1, 2019
HB 908 (SB 271) - Health Insurance - Coverage of Fertility Preservation Procedures for Iatrogenic Infertility
The bill requires insurance carriers to provide coverage for “standard fertility preservation procedures” that are:
- Performed on a policyholder or subscriber or on the dependent spouse of a policyholder or subscriber and
- Medically necessary to preserve fertility due to a need for medical treatment that may directly or indirectly cause “iatrogenic infertility.”
The bill takes effect January 1, 2018, and applies to all policies, contracts, and health benefit plans issued, delivered, or renewed in the State on or after that date.
HB 1283 - Health Insurance - Prescription Contraceptives - Coverage for Single Dispensing
Alters the length for which a certain insurer, nonprofit health service plan, and health maintenance organization is required to provide coverage for a single dispensing of a supply of prescription contraceptives, from a 6-month to a 12-month period; providing that a certain provision of the Act may not be construed to require a provider to prescribe, furnish, or dispense contraceptives for 12 months at one time; etc.