|April 8, 2019
State House Highlights of the Week: Tobacco, Tanning, and Public Health in HHS; Short-Term Health Plans and Consumer Assistance in HCIFS
Last week, the Health Coverage, Insurance & Financial Services Committee held public hearings on bills to expand state regulation of short-term, limited benefit health plans (LDs 815, 1260, and 1263) which have been advocated by some as comprehensive health care coverage to the great confusion of consumers. MMA joined consumer advocates in support of some legislative action in this area. The MMA also testified in support of LD 1274, a bill that would provide needed support for the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) at the Consumers for Affordable Health Care organization. The MMA also participated in an initial work session on LDs 249 and 705, MMA bills on the use of a "clinical peer" in health plan UR decisions and on prior authorization standards. The HCIFS Committee asked the stakeholders in LDs 249 and 705 to meet in an effort to find common ground on these issues.
The Health & Human Services Committee voted unanimously last week on a bill, LD 552, that would have allowed store owners to escape responsibility for tobacco sales to minors if their employees simply did not use installed drivers' license verification devices. The MMA and a number of public health experts testified in favor of a bill (LD 1277) to require the Director of the Maine CDC to have certain credentials or their equivalent. One item on the list, that the Director be a physician or nurse practitioner, was opposed by the DHHS, but there was agreement on requirements for significant public health experience and training. Again this year, for the third time in this writer's brief experience, the committee is considering a bill to ban the use of indoor tanning salons by persons under 18. Once again, the bill is opposed by the tanning industry, whose representatives are now claiming it is a medical procedure. We expect a repeat of favorable votes in Committee and in the House and Senate, but this time a veto is not expected. Finally, bills to support school based health centers financially and to expand their number were voted "ought to pass" by the committee. Their fate will be decided at the end of the session when the Appropriations Committee decides which bills to fund from the Special Appropriations Table.
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