|May 28, 2021
Maine Medical Association Legislative Advocacy Update
Leaders of the Maine Legislature recently voted to reopen the State Capitol to the public as its previously scheduled date of adjournment (June 16th) swiftly approaches. The full Maine House of Representatives and Maine Senate has planned 10 meeting days, starting Wednesday, June 2nd.
Legislative policy committees rushed to finish up their work this week by reviewing hundreds of bills, bill amendments, and voting on nearly all of them. Each committee also reserved bills for further consideration (tabled and carried over) when the Legislature returns in January 2022.
The following is an update on pieces of legislation relevant to the Maine Medical Association’s 2021 Legislative Priorities Platform.
LD 333—An Act Regarding Telehealth: The MMA worked directly with Representative Patty Hymanson (York; retired neurologist) on introducing LD 333 with the goal of maintaining advances, and potentially expanding access, to telehealth services resulting from the COVID-19. While the bill was voted Ought Not to Pass in committee this week, the general content was folded into LD 791, An Act Regarding Telehealth Regulations. LD 791 was used as a vehicle for nearly a dozen other telehealth related bills before the Legislature.
MMA goals contained in LD 333 were to:
Authorized audio-only telehealth.
Clarify that reimbursement must be made on the same basis and same rate as in person care.
No separate deductible limits can be applied by insurance carriers that are not applied in aggregate with other services.
Prohibit more restrictive prescription requirements by insurance carriers for prescriptions written through virtual care.
A majority of committee legislators voted LD 791 Ought to Pass as Amended. It will first be scheduled for debate and vote in the coming weeks before the Maine Senate.
MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS HEALTH PROGRAM FUNDING
LD 1576—Resolve, To Establish and Fund a Medical Professionals Health Program from Health Care Provider License Fees: The Maine Medical Association asked the bill sponsor, Senator Stacy Brenner (Scarborough, Gorham), to withdraw the bill after the MMA met with various licensing boards within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Stakeholders agreed to meet after the legislative session to discuss the Program, operations, and ongoing funding challenges.
PRIMARY CARE INVESTMENT
LD 1196 – An Act Regarding Targets for Health Plan Investments in Primary Care and Behavioral Health: This bill was designed with a goal of improving health outcomes and lowering costs through better Primary Care and Behavioral Health systems in Maine. Bill sponsor, and physician, Representative Sam Zager (Portland) requested the bill to be carried over to 2022 and a legislative committee agreed to direct stakeholders, convened by the Maine Medical Association, to meet and attempt to produce a consensus proposal to the committee focused on better directing Maine’s health care model more toward prevention, chronic disease management, access and equity, and treatment for behavioral/mental health conditions such as substance use disorder.
DRUG SENTENCING & SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER TREATMENT FOR INCARCERATED PEOPLE
LD 967—An Act To Make Possession of Scheduled Drugs for Personal Use a Civil Penalty: The bill would make possession of a scheduled drug (W, X, Y or Z drugs) a civil violation instead of a crime or allows the court to refer the person to a provider for an evidence-based health assessment for proposed treatment for substance use disorder. A majority of the committee voted to approve the bill with amendments, however, the majority was split in the construct of amendments.
It will first be scheduled for debate and vote in the coming weeks before the Maine House of Representatives.
LD 663—An Act To Make Comprehensive Substance Use Disorder Treatment Available to Maine's Incarcerated Population: The legislation would place in law create a directive for the Maine Department of Corrections to providing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders and additional substance use disorder treatment for incarcerated persons, including screening, evaluation, and treatment.
The committee was divided on two different versions of amended language to the bill with disagreements over how broad the language should be for access to FDA approved medications and corresponding cost considerations. The bill will be up for debate and potential votes in the coming weeks, first before the Maine House of Representatives.
TOBACCO TAX INCREASE
LD 1423—An Act To Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use by Ensuring Adequate Funding for Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Programs and by Raising the Tax on Tobacco Products and To Provide Funding To Reduce Disparities in Health Outcomes Based on Certain Factors: The bill increases the cigarette tax by $2.00/pack. Passing the bill into law is expected to generate nearly $48 million in new annual state revenue, decrease youth smoking by nearly 20%, and generate $3.4 million in state savings to the Medicaid program over the next five years. Maine law ties all tobacco taxes together so the increase will be made to all tobacco products.
TOBACCO FLAVORS BAN
LD 1550—An Act To End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products: The bill would prohibit the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and electronic smoking devices. The bill language was also included in the Governor’s Supplemental State Budget (LD 221).
LD 1550 was voted Ought to Pass as Amended by a majority of the committee and will be voted on in the coming weeks by the Maine House of Representatives while theAppropriations & Financial Affairs Committee will continue work on the Governor’s Supplemental Budget before voting.
MMA Testimony – LD 1550
MMA Testimony – Governor’s budget
1,731 bills have been printed as of Friday, May 28, 2021
The MMA is tracking over 320 bills.
The MMA is closely monitoring over 111 bills.
MMA staff and members have directly provided written and/or oral testimony on approximately 70 separate bills.
Maine’s specialty societies and public health committee have also provided testimony on numerous bills before the Maine Legislature.
Any questions, comments, concerns, or background information on MMA’s Legislative Priorities Platform, testimony, or Maine legislation under consideration can be directed to MMA’s Director of Communications and Government Affairs, Dan Morin email@example.com or by phone at (207) 480-4199.
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