Maine Medicine Weekly Update - April 3, 2021 (Plain Text Version)
In this issue:
Maine Legislature Week 12 Update
The following is a summary of happenings during week 12 of the Maine Legislature.
Week 12: 3/29-4/1
Veterans and Legal Affairs
On Monday the public hearing for LD 605, An Act To Amend the Marijuana Legalization Act, commenced. The bill went to hearing despite being a concept draft. Hearing from the sponsor of the bill, Representative Pierce, we learned the bill would work to combined the adult and medical market. Many voiced their opposition to this point, noting that it would not benefit either market.
Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services
A public hearing for LD 603, An Act Regarding the Practice of Pharmacy, was held on Thursday. The bill seeks to add an undefined amount of healthcare services the duties that pharmacists are able to perform. The bill had wide support from pharmacists and will be having a work session soon.
LD 998, An Act to Amend the Continuing Education Requirement for Pharmacists, was heard in the same session. The bill would remove the requirement of two hours of continuing education for all pharmacists who do not administer drugs; it was met with support from MaineHealth.
On Thursday, the Committee held a public hearing on LD 778. The bill would amend statute to allow for electronic submissions through a portal for reporting child abuse, and would be expanded to include school personnel. The bill was supported without opposition and will move to a work session.
Later that day, the Committee held a work session on LD 642 that brought much debate. The bill, An Act to Ensure That Children Receive Behavioral Health Services, was amended by the sponsor during the public hearing, so there was some confusion as to whether written testimony spoke to the bill as written or to the amendment. The big question was whether one parent should be allowed to ensure that their children are able to access behavioral health services if the other parent disagrees, or if those services should be only allowed with permission from both parents. In the end, the Committee voted Ought to Pass as Amended 7-5.
State and Local Government
On Monday, LD 729 was heard among many other bills relating to States of Emergency and ensuring that the Legislative branch retains as much power as the Executive branch. LD 729, an Act to Provide Transparency Regarding State Contracts during a State of Emergency, had some support, but toward the end of the hearing was declared to be redundant by a government worker. Each year, 5,000 contracts are reviewed and put on a publicly accessible website, making LD 729 superfluous.
Health and Human Services
On Thursday, the Health and Human Services heard five bills of interest. The first, LD 739, An Act Regarding Credible Allegations of Fraud by MaineCare Providers, would change the language from “fraud occurred to “an allegation of fraud as been established”. The bill was a response to a fraud case filed on a foster home that housed several people with disabilities. The DHHS withheld funding from the home and left the inhabitants without services. There was a question from the committee and others who testified if this bill would work to solve this problem. Concern was raised that the change in language may harm the services further.
LD 376, Resolve, To Increase Certain Chiropractic Reimbursement Rates under the MaineCare Program, would increase the MaineCare reimbursement rate for Chiropractic services to 70% of the Medicaid reimbursement rate. Those testifying noted rates for Chiropractors have not been increased for 21 years. This bill would work to increase those who accept MaineCare and allow for Chiropractors to continue to practice.
LD 784, An Act To Amend the Law Governing Approval Authority over and Oversight of Certified Nursing Assistant Educational Programs, would work to address the Certified Nursing Assitant shortage in Maine. Current law requires that any facility that provides a CNA training program must prove there are no other training institutions and receive oversight from the Adult Education Program. This bill would rid of this requirement, making it easier for the facilities to train in accordance with their staffing and time requirements.
LD 1064, An Act To Advance Palliative Care Utilization in the State, directs the DHHS to provide reimbursement for palliative care and to adopt rules using the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative care to ensure an evidence-based foundation for reimbursement. Northern Light Health’s Lisa Harvey-McPherson helped to create an amendment that would include a definition of palliative care from the existing statute, an establishment of a reimbursement rate and directs stakeholders to provide education on palliative care.
On Friday the Committee voted on LD 118, An Act To Address Maine's Shortage of Behavioral Health Services for Minors. The committee spent time addressing the need for data in response to the report recently released by the DHHS regarding children with behavioral health needs in the Emergency Department. Representative McCreight held that while the data the DHHS released is commendable and useful, we still need to have a larger picture and understanding so we can take action to solve this problem. After an hour and a half work session, the committee voted to table the bill for a later discussion.
Public hearings for LD 432, Resolve, To Improve Behavioral Health Care for Children, and LD 783, An Act Regarding the Membership of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Advisory Board, were also held on Friday. LD 432 would work to reimburse for additional collateral contacts for children’s home and community-based treatment so services provided to children (i.e. medical and educational) can work on the same approach and maximize services. The bill was met only with support. LD 783, An Act Regarding the Membership of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Advisory Board, would add to the board an additional sexual assault nurse examiner (2 in total), a representative of law enforcement, and change one member from the State Board of Nursing to one member representing a school of nursing. This was also only met with support.