2018 Victories

HB 1795 / SB 1267 - Maryland Health Benefit Exchange - Establishment of a Reinsurance Program

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:

  1. provides family planning services, subject to state budget limitations, to individuals up to 250% of the poverty level as allowed by federal law,

  2. does not impose age limitations on who may receive family planning services,

  3. establishes presumptive eligibility for enrollment, and

  4. 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 1283 - Health Insurance - Prescription Contraceptives - Coverage for Single Dispensing

Current law requires insurance cover 6-months of dispensing of contraception. The bill extends it to 12 months.

Consumer Health First supported this legislation: Read our Testimony here.

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:

  1. 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,

  2. mediate disputes between stakeholders,

  3. assist in collaboration among health care service providers in the mid-shore region,

  4. increase awareness among county officials and residents regarding the health status, health needs, and available resources in the mid-shore region, and

  5. 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

HB 490 (SB 163) - Public Health – Community Health Workers – Advisory Committee and Certification

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 135 (SB 137) - Health Insurance – Coverage for Male Sterilization – High–Deductible Health Plans 

Allows High-Deductible Health Plans with health savings accounts to require a deductible for male sterilization.

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.

HB 115 (SB 13) - Electronic Prescription Records Cost Saving Act of 2018

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.

2017 Victories

Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act

This bill ensures that consumer advocates and other stakeholders play a key role in informing "on any changes or program redesign" of the Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid). This was a critical move and we applaud the legislature for responding to our recommendation (read our press release).

Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act

This bill responds to threats to the Affordable Care Act by establishing a Commission to monitor any federal changes to the ACA, Medicaid, Medicare and the Maryland Children's Health Program and provide recommendations on actions at the state or local level. Consumer Health First's amendments were included in the final bill that passed into law without the Governor's signature. These included the extension of the Commission's term by two years and the authorization to create workgroups to inform its work. These are important to ensure the consumer voice in the process and to provide a reasonable timeframe given the uncertainties of action on the federal level.

 Family Planning Services - Continuity of Care

With the passage of this legislation, Maryland became the only state in the country to pro-actively address the threat to women's health in the event that the federal government revokes funding under Title X, the national family planning program. The bill directs $2.7 million in state funding to establish a Family Planning Program at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. This ensures that patients can continue to access these providers, including Planned Parenthood. Like SB571, this bill passed into law without Governor Hogan's signature.

Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Cost of Emergency Room Visits to Treat Dental Conditions - Study

There are a lot of contingencies built into this legislation, but it basically requires a study of the use of emergency rooms for the treatment of chronic dental conditions and authorizes, but does not require, DHMH to establish a Medicaid adult dental benefit. 

Public Health - Essential Generic Drugs - Price Gouging - Prohibition

On the last day of the session, and after sometimes contentious debate, the legislature passed a bill that would "give the state attorney general powers to sue drug manufactures that dramatically raise prices." It requires the Maryland Medicaid to notify the drug manufacturer and the Attorney General of an increase in the price of the drug, and to submit a statement to the Attorney General within 20 days after receipt of such notice. As an article in the Baltimore Sun noted, "This is a first-in-the-nation measure ..."

Keep the Door Open Act

We applaud the great work of the Mental Health Association of Maryland and many other partners who successfully shepherded this bill into passage. The legislation requires that the Governor's budget include rate increases for community providers over and above the funding provided in legislative appropriations. This was accomplished by adding it to another bill, the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act (SB967).   

Pharmacists - Contraceptives - Prescribing and Dispensing

Adds the prescribing and dispensing of FDA approved contraceptive medications and self-administered contraceptive devices to pharmacists’ scope of practice.

Public Health - Maternal Mental Health

The MD Dept. of Health must consult with stakeholders and identify up-to-date, evidence-based, written information about pregnant mother's mood and anxiety disorders. It also requires the Dept. of Health to provide information on its website and to health care facilities and providers of prenatal, labor and delivery, postnatal care, and expectant parents.

University of Maryland School of Public Health, Center for Health Equity - Workgroup on Health in All Policies 

This legislation requires the University of Maryland School of Public Health, Center for Health Equity, and the Department of Health to convene a workgroup to study and make recommendations for laws and policies that will positively impact the health of residents of the State.

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Renaming

Renamed the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to be the Maryland Department of Health; and renames the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene to be the Secretary of Health. 

2016

Health Benefit Plans - Network Access Standards and Provider Network Directories - This legislation was an outgrowth of two reports done in 2015 by Consumer Health First and the Mental Health Association of Maryland. These reports demonstrated the challenges consumers face in identifying a provider and then getting the services they need.

The final legislation, passed by both the Senate and House with unanimous votes, represented a coming together of advocates, insurance carriers and others.  The result is a consensus bill that includes a number of key provisions. These include a process to identify specific standards that carriers must address in designing their network of providers to ensure consumers' access to needed services.  It also puts in place provisions that will support greater accuracy in the information contained in the provider directories.

Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Specialty Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services - Parity - This legislation requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to adopt regulations to ensure that the Maryland Medicaid program to include standards regarding treatment limitations for specialty mental health and substance use disorder services.

Health Insurance - Consumer Health Claim Filing Fairness Act - This legislation requires insurance plans to include provisions that permit enrollees a minimum of 1 year to submit a claim for a service, provide for the suspension of the minimum period of time, and provide that failure to submit a claim within the minimum period of time does not invalidate or reduce the amount of the claim. You can read our testimony for this legislation.

Hospitals - Designation of Lay Caregivers - This important piece of legislation requires a hospital to provide a patient or the legal guardian of a patient with an opportunity to designate a lay caregiver before the patient is discharged from the hospital. Consumer Health First also testified for this legislation.

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Clinical Crisis Walk-In Services and Mobile Crisis Teams - Strategic Plan - This legislation requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to develop a strategic plan for ensuring that crisis services and teams are available statewide.

Health Insurance - Contraceptive Equity Act - This critical piece of legislation prohibits health insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and HMOs from applying a co-payment, coinsurance, or prior authorization requirement for specified contraceptive drugs and devices. It also requires a health insurer, nonprofit health service plan, and health maintenance organization to post its contraceptive formulary on its Web site.

Health Insurance - Large Employers - Disclosure of Aggregate Incurred Claims - This legislation requires a health insurance carrier to disclose the aggregate incurred claims of the group to a large employer if the carrier is experience rating the large employer's health benefit plan, within 30 days of a request.

Health Insurance - Reporting Requirements - Repeal - This legislation was sponsored by the Chair, Health and Government Operations Committee by special request of the Maryland Insurance Administration. It repeals a requirement that an annual report be filed with the Maryland Insurance Commissioner by insurers, nonprofit health service plans, health maintenance organizations, dental plan organizations, and specified other entities regarding a summary description of specified clinical issues and diagnostic and therapeutic services.

Open Meetings Act - Legislation requires a public body to provide an agenda containing specified information if the agenda has been determined at the time a public body gives notice of the meeting or, if an agenda has not been determined at the time of the meeting notice, provide the agenda at least 24 hours before the meeting; and authorizes that a public body provide an agenda within a reasonable time after a meeting is held under specified circumstances. You can read Consumer Health First's Testimony for this legislation.

Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Former Foster Care Adolescents - Dental Care- Legislation requires that Maryland Medicaid, subject to the limitations of the State budget, provide dental care for former foster care adolescents who, on their 18th birthday, were in foster care under the responsibility of the State.

Public Works Transparency Act of 2016 - This legislation requires the Secretary of Budget and Management to provide specified notice at least 10 consecutive days before the Board of Public Works may approve a reduction of appropriations; and requires the Secretary to provide written notice of the proposed reduction to the Legislative Policy Committee, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, and the House Appropriations Committee.

2015

2015 Legislative Victories

Health Insurance - Conformity With Federal Law

This addresses the need to bring Maryland law into compliance with Federal law.  Among the amendments proposed by the Coalition and other advocates was language that would ensure that the 2017 Essential Health Benefits (EHB) are as comprehensive as those included in plans currently available.  And, that the process to select the EHB is open and transparent with an opportunity for a hearing and public comment.

Maryland Council on Advancement of School-Based Health Centers

The purpose of this legislation is to improve the health and educational outcomes of students receiving services from school based health centers.

Read More

2014

2014 Legislative Victories

The following highlights the bills that the Coalition testified on, or advocated for, during the 2014 General Assembly Session.  Learn more about 2014 legislation in the Senate and House of Delegates.

Community Integrated Medical Home Program

This establishes an advisory body, whose duties include determining the model, standards and scope of services for the State’s Community Integrated Medical Home Program.  The Coalition, with others, successfully had the bill amended to require the inclusion of “consumer advocacy organizations.” 

Workgroup on Workforce Development for Community Health Workers

This convenes a workgroup to conduct a study relating to the training and credentialing of community health workers and related reimbursement and payment policies and to submit a report on or before December 1, 2014.

Read More

2013

2013 Legislative Victories

Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013 

Govenor O'Malley signed the Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013 on April 25th.  This is the last of a three year process to build the state’s Health Benefit Exchange and its public face, Maryland Health Connection.  Read our Advocate's Guide to learn more about the law’s key provisions.

Repeal of Obsolete Provisions of Law 

This legislation repeals a law that (1) allows health maintenance organizations to offer a benefit package that provides limited benefits; (2) authorizes a group health insurance policy to continue distributing  benefits after the death of a person; and (3) requires a succeeding insurer to give information to an employer before entering into a group contract.

2012

2012 Legislative Victories

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012

Requires the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to make specified qualified dental plans available to specified individuals and employers; requiring the Exchange to establish and implement specified navigator programs on or before January 1, 2014; establishing qualifications for specified navigators; etc.

Read the Consumer Health First's proposed amendments.

Read the Consumer Health First's testimony.

Read the Urban Institute's ACA Implementation Monitoring and Tracking Site Visit Report.

Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012

Establishes a process to create specified areas as Health Enterprise Zones that can, in the longer term, support the State’s goal of creating health equity. 

Read More

2011

2011 Legislative Victories

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2011

Establishes Maryland’s “health insurance marketplace.”           

Family Planning Works Act

Ensures that approximately 33,000 low income women will have access to family planning services prior to the birth of their first child.

Health Insurance - Conformity with Federal Law

Alters the circumstances under which a person has the right to a hearing and the right to an appeal from an action of the Maryland Insurance Commissioner; requiring the Commissioner to file specified documents in a court in which a specified appeal is pending; providing that provisions of federal law apply to specified health insurance coverage issued or delivered by insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations; authorizing the Commissioner to enforce specified provisions of law; etc.

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2010

2010 Legislative Victories

Administration of National High Risk Pool Program 

Allows Maryland to participate in the national high risk pool program established under the new law.             

Patient Centered Medical Home Program 

Is the first step towards creating better health outcomes and reduced costs by establishing a program for coordinated patient care led by your primary care physician.  

Kids First Express Lane Eligibility Act 

Extends and refines the Kids First.    

2009

2009 Legislative Victories

Foster Kids Act

Provides health care coverage to a high risk group of young people who are aging out of the foster care system and would otherwise lose coverage.

Health Insurance - Limitations on Preexisting Condition Provisions - Individual Health Benefit Plan

Imposes limitations on pre-existing conditions in individual health.

Health Insurance - Out-of-State Association Contracts - Regulations

Imposes disclosure requirements on insurance carriers that offer out-of-state association plans.   

Read More

2008

2008 Legislative Victories

Kids First Act

To identify and enroll up to 90,000 children eligible for Medicaid or the Maryland Children’s Health Insurance Program. This legislation, which pioneers a new approach using state tax information, is seen as a model for other states.    

Preparation and distribution of a report on public health services and Marylanders’ access to essential health services at the local level.  The report was based on Consumer Health First's visits to local health departments around the state. Among the issues identified as requiring serious attention are the state’s antiquated computer systems, cutbacks to essential services due to restrictive budgets, and unmet health care needs at the local level.  This is an on-going project and the information will continue to be updated and circulated as appropriate.