April 4, 2003

 
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Judiciary Committee Hears MMA's Bioterrorism Immunity Bill
Bill Would Provide Liability Protection for Volunteer Physicians Responding to a Public Health Threat
 

On Tuesday afternoon, the Judiciary Committee received public testimony about L.D. 846, An Act to Protect Health Care Practitioners Responding to Public Health Threats.  Representative Tom Shields M.D. (R-Auburn) presented the bill on behalf of the MMA.  The MMA, the Maine Hospital Association, and the Bureau of Health supported the bill.  The Maine Trial Lawyers Association spoke 'neither for nor against' the bill and stated that the group was working with the proponents to develop consensus language.  Thanks to Dr. Larry Mutty for attending the long afternoon session to present his views to the Committee.  The Committee has scheduled a work session on the bill for Tuesday afternoon, 4/8.

Insurance Committee Faces Health System Reform Bills
In two days of public hearings on Monday and Tuesday, members of the Insurance & Financial Services Committee considered a series of bills submitted by legislators seeking answers to the problems in our current health care system.  The bills included:

  • L.D. 712, An Act to Extend Participation in the State's Group Health Plan
  • L.D. 1239, An Act Concerning Universal Health Insurance
  • L.D. 161, An Act to Allow Certain Discounts on Health Insurance
  • L.D. 1190, An Act to Create the Comprehensive Health Insurance Risk Pool Association
  • L.D. 1174, An Act Relating to Options for Health Insurance Coverage
  • L.D. 1175, An Act to Improve the Affordability of Individual and Small Group Health Insurance
  • L.D. 1176, An Act to Provide Affordable Health Care Insurance to All of the State's Citizens

The bills are creative and demonstrate considerable thought by the sponsors about health care system reform issues.  Most of those who testified about these bills, including the MMA, the Governor's Director of Health Policy & Finance Trish Riley, the health plans, and others spoke "neither for nor against" and suggested that the Committee consider the concepts in the bills when it receives the Governor's proposal later this Spring. [return to top]

Legislators Proceed, But Cautiously, on Cost & Quality Bills
In work sessions on Wednesday and Thursday this week, the Insurance & Financial Services Committee killed all but one "cost disclosure" bill and the Health & Human Services Committee killed all but one "quality measurement/dislosure" bill.  The IFS Committee tabled L.D. 497, Resolve, to Study the Feasibility and Effectiveness of Providing Consumers with Consumer Reports on Health Care Systems and the H&HS Committee tabled L.D. 535, An Act to Strengthen Health Data Information & Health Planning, pending receipt of the Governor's health care reform package.  Members of both Committees acknowledged that it is likely that the Governor's proposal will address these issues. [return to top]

Funding for MHDO Again an Issue
The Legislature's discussion of health care cost and quality issues has once again raised questions about the appropriate role of the Maine Health Data Organization (MHDO) and its resources.  Several of the cost and quality bills would expand the role of the MHDO into these areas and most observers acknowledget that the agency could not do this within its existing resources.  The MHDO is funded completely through assessments--most paid by health insurers and hospitals and smaller amounts paid by third party administrators and 'non-hospital providers,' including ASUs and freestanding radiological facilities.  Some organizations, particularly pharmacy representatives, continue to complain to legislators about the 'fairness' of the assessment system.  This week, the H&HS Committee voted to pass L.D. 532, An Act to Regulate Assessments of the MHDO in which the Committee directs the MHDO to review the 'fairness' of the current assessment system and to report back to the Committee in January.

The MMA is aware that the MHDO already is proposing rules, to be considered by its board of directors at its May meeting, that would increase the annual assessment on ASUs and freestanding radiological facilities from $1100 per year to $2500 per year.  It is very likely that the prospect of assessing individual physicians to support the work of the MHDO will arise again in these discussions. [return to top]

Bureau of Health to Issue Latex Glove Protocols
The Health & Human Services Committee voted "ought not to pass" on L.D. 767, An Act to Reduce the Health Risks Associated with Latex Gloves, a bill that would have banned the sale and use of latex gloves in Maine.  Instead, the committee asked the Bureau of Health to develop protocols on the use of latex gloves and required it to report back to the committee by January 2004 on the Bureau's educational efforts. [return to top]

Insurance Committee Passes MMA Bill on Notice/Retrospective Denials
On Wednesday afternoon, the Insurance & Financial Services Committee voted unanimously in favor of compromise amendment to L.D. 897, An Act Concerning Health Insurance Reimbursement & Contracting Practices.  The compromise is the result of lengthy negotiations among the MMA, the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Association of Health Plans, other provider groups, and the Bureau of Insurance.

The bill requires health insurers to give providers 60 days prior notice of material changes to provider agreements, such as changes to fee schedules or procedural coding rules, and limits health insurers to 18 months for retrospective review of previously paid claims.  In an effort to encourage more providers to bill electronically, the bill will require providers with 10 or more employees to file electronically after January 1, 2005 in order to claim interest payable under the 'prompt payment' statute. [return to top]

LifeFlight Bond: One of a $700 Million Package
The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee will be considering bond packages this Spring totalling more than $700 million.  One of those bonds is L.D. 677, An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $6 M to Enable LifeFlight of Maine to Fully Implement a Statewide, Dedicated Air-medical Response System.  The bond would fund improvements to LifeFlight's infrastructure, including money for helipads throughout the state.  It would replace the existing two helicopters, improve weather reporting and fuel availability in rural areas, and allocate money to training.  At a public hearing on Friday, the bill had a litany of proponents, including patients, physicians (including Kevin Kendall, MD and Harry Grimmnitz, MD, who testified for Maine ACEP and MMA), several hospitals, the policemen's association, and many people associated directly with LifeFlight.  There was no opposition to the bill, although Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield testified that they had concerns that the bill may be a mandate and may increase costs for health care because of increased utilization.  If passed, the bill would bring the bond question to the November ballot.  [return to top]

H&HS Committee Majority Support Drug Marketing Cost Disclosure Bill
At a work session on Monday, the Health & Human Services Committee voted 7-4 in favor of L.D. 254, An Act to Require Full Disclosure of Prescription Drug Marketing Costs, one of 3 bills dealing with pharmaceutical manufacturers' disclosure of their marketing expenditures in Maine.  L.D. 254, sponsored by H&HS House Chair Tom Kane (D-Saco), received support from only one Republican on the Committee, Representative James Campbell (R-Newfield).

Several members of the Committee were not present to vote at the work session and registered their votes later.  Based on the experience with a bill on the same subject in the 120th Legislature, the Committee vote is likely to be close and the bill probably will be the subject of contentious debate on the floor of the House and Senate later this Spring. [return to top]

Discussions Continue on Central Drug Database Bill
This week a group of stakeholders interested in L.D. 945, An Act to Facilitate Communication between Prescribers & Dispensers of Prescription Medication met to discuss issues raised at the public hearing.  The Business, Research & Economic Development Committee has scheduled a work session on the bill later this month at which time the stakeholders hope to have achieved consensus about the outstanding issues. [return to top]

MMA Position on Bills Reviewed 4/2/03
L.D. 1423, An Act to Facilitate the Implementation, Maintenance and Operation of the E-9-1-1 Emergency System (Bliss)  (support; emergency physicians)

L.D. 1439, An Act to Protect Young Drivers and Passengers (Savage)  (monitor; pediatricians, Public Health Committee)

L.D. 1469, An Act to Raise the Fee Caps of the Board of Dental Examiners (Sullivan) (monitor) [return to top]

Conference call and Meeting Information
The MMA Legislative Committee (and any interested member) will next meet in person at the MMA office on Tuesday, April 8th at 6 p.m.

The Committee's conference call for Wednesday, April 16th at 7 p.m. will use ACCESS PHONE NUMBER AND CODE:

Access phone number:  800-989-2842

Access code:  6223374 [return to top]

Bills for Review and Discussion on 4/8/03
The Committee will discuss and take a position on the following bills during the Legislative Committee Meeting at the MMA office in Manchester on 4/8/03 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.. 

LD 1477, An Act To Amend the Laws with Regard to Legislative Reports on Children's Mental Health Services (Kane)

LD 1478, An Act To Change the Membership of the Review Team for Aversive Behavior Modifications for Persons with Mental Retardation or Autism (Craven)

LD 1480, An Act To Change the Time Requirement for Mental Retardation Evaluations (Walcott)

LD 1487, An Act To Allow Judges' Faxed Signatures in Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment Proceedings (Weston)

LD 1488, An Act To Extend Licensing Periods for Agencies Providing Mental Health Services (Brennan) 

LD 1490, An Act To Update and Clarify the Law Regarding the Conversion of a Nonprofit Hospital and Medical Service Organization to a Domestic Stock Insurer (Douglass)

LD 1491, An Act To Delay the Repeal of Laws Governing the State's Response to an Extreme Public Health Emergency (Pendleton)

LD 1502, An Act To Clarify the Exclusion of Assumed Reinsurance from Policy Claims Priority (Young)

LD 1507, An Act To Clarify and Update the Laws Related to Health Insurance (Canavan)

LD 1511, An Act To Make Technical Changes to the Laws Concerning Tobacco Manufacturers (Norbert)

LD 1516, An Act To Prevent Certain Deliveries of Tobacco Products (Martin) 

LD 1517, An Act To Make Necessary Technical Changes Relating to the Maine Business Corporation Act and the Maine Professional Service Corporation Act (Norbert)

 

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Upcoming Public Hearings
Monday, 4/7/03

1 p.m., Health and Human Services - L.D. 1127, An Act to Require Fire-safe Cigarettes in the State; L.D. 896, Resolve, to Establish a System for Electronic Filing of Death Certificates; L.D. 1356, An Act to Provide Fair Hearing Procedures in the Department of Human Services

3 p.m., Health and Human Services - L.D. 1346, An Act to Protect Workers from Secondhand Smoke and to Promote Worker Safety

 1 p.m., Insurance and Financial Services - L.D. 492, An Act to Encourage Agricultural Cooperative Associations to Provide Group Health Plans; L.D. 1353, An Act to Ensure Women's Health Care Coverage for All Maine Women; L.D. 1386, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 840, Private Purchasing Alliances, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Bureau of Insurance

1 p.m., Judiciary - L.D. 1211, An Act to Amend the Laws Relating to Medical Certification of the Cause of Death and the Medical Examiner Act

Tuesday, 4/8/03

1 p.m., Business, Research and Economic Development  - L.D. 649, An Act to Allow the Practice of Optometry on the Same Premises as an Optical Shop or Other Establishment; L.D. 1411, An Act to Increase the Licensing Fee Caps of the State Board of Optemetry

1 p.m., Health and Human Services - L.D. 1301, Resolve, to Establish the Maine Public Health Commission

3 p.m., Health and Human Services - L.D. 1220, An Act to Amend the Dates for Implementation of the Maine Rx Program and the Prescription Drug Price Reduction Act; L.D. 1288, An Act to Increase Public Access to the Prior Authorization Process

1 p.m., Insurance and Financial Services - L.D. 1363, An Act to Create Lower-cost Health Insurance Options; L.D. 1490, An Act to Update and Clarify the Law Regarding the Conversion of a Nonprofit Hospital and Medical Service Organization to a Domestic Sock Insurer

1 p.m.,Judiciary -  L.D. 720, An Act to Protect Health Care Workers Who Report Medical Errors

Wednesday, 4/9/03

9 a.m., Appropriations and Financial Affairs - L.D. 292, An Act to Support Individuals With Developmental Disabilities Who Have Been Physically or Sexually Abused

9:30 a.m., Health and Human Services - L.D. 800, Resolve, to Provide Training on Autistic Behaviors to Crisis Professionals; L.D. 1099, An Act to Amend the Laws Governing the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council; L.D. 1108, Resolve, to Establish Equitable Rates for In-home Behavioral Health Services for Children; L.D. 1291, An Act to Establish a System of Advocacy and Oversight to Benefit Persons with Mental Health Retardation and Autism; L.D. 480, Resolve, to Maintain Flexibility and Safety in Caring for People with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness

1 p.m., Health and Human Services - L.D. 1293, An Act to Improve the Fairness of the Health Care Provider Tax and to Ensure Fair Implementation of Health Care Reimbursement Reforms; L.D. 1341, Resolve, Directing the Department of Human Services to Adopt Rules to Reduce Regulatory Burdens on Home Health Agencies

9:30 a.m., Transportation - An Act to Protect Young Drivers and Passengers

Thursday, 4/10/03 

1:15 p.m., Education and Cultural Affairs - L.D. 751, An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council

1 p.m., Health and Human Services - L.D. 553, Resolve, to Study the Needs of Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Children and Adolescents

Monday, 4/14/03

1 p.m., Judiciary - L.D. 299, An Act to Amend the Abortion Reporting Laws to Eliminate Immunity for a Physician Who Reports Data on an Abortion; L.D. 798, An Act to Amend the Abortion Consent Laws; L.D. 1101, An Act to Establish and Enforce Abortion Facility Safety Requirements; L.D. 1102, An Act to Protect the Mental Health of Women and Girls; L.D. 1129, An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Abortion Reporting

Tuesday, 4/15/03

1 p.m., Insurance and Financial Services - L.D. 1502, An Act to Clarify the Exclusion of Assumed Reinsurance from Policy Claims Priority; L.D. 1507, An Act to Clarify and Update the Laws Related to Health Insurance

1 p.m., Judiciary - L.D. 1487, An Act to Allow Judges' Faxed Signatures in Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment Proceedings

Wednesday, 4/16/03

1 p.m., Insurance and Financial Services - L.D. 1087, An Act to Require All Health Insurers to Cover the Costs of Hearing Aids

Thursday, 4/17/03

9 a.m., Labor - L.D. 1013, An Act to Address Maine's Direct Care Worker Shortage 

  [return to top]

Legislative links

  • Maine Legislature's main page
  • Joint Standing Committee list
  • Legislative action - audio links
  • AMA's Washington, D.C. website
  • [return to top]

    To Contact Your State Legislator in Augusta
    For Members of the House:

    The Honorable John/Jane Doe

    State House Station 2

    Augusta, Maine 04333-0002

    1-800-423-2900/207-287-1400 (to leave a message)

    For Senators:

    The Honorable John/Jane Doe

    State House Station 3

    Augusta, Maine 04333-0003

    1-800-423-6900/207-287-1540 (to leave a message) [return to top]

    To Contact Governor Baldacci
    The Honorable John E. Baldacci

    State House Station 1, Augusta, Maine 04333-0001, 287-3531

    governor@maine.gov [return to top]

    For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.mainemed.com l ©2003, Maine Medical Association