For the Week Ending March 16, 2012
Vermont lawmakers returned to Montpelier last week following a week-long Town Meeting break and they immediately rushed to meet a self-imposed Friday deadline requiring committees to move priority bills that had not yet been acted upon. Bills not meeting the so-called “crossover” deadline will not receive further consideration this year.
The House Health Care Committee last week approved bills related to midwives, insurance co-pays for mental health and substance abuse services, and decided to ask for additional time under the crossover rule to consider a House bill relating to insurer reimbursement for emergency transports. The committee also ushered bills related to broker fees and telemedicine through debate and passage through the full House.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved bills mandating insurance coverage for childhood developmental disorders including autism and insurer disclosure of claims denial rates. The Finance Committee added its stamp of approval to the developmental disorder mandate and approved a bill related to naturopaths that had previously gained Health and Welfare approval.
This bill easily passed the House last week and is now in the Senate. The bill requires health insurance reimbursement for telemedicine services delivered to a patient in a health care facility to the same extent that those services would be covered if they were provided through an in-person consultation. The service must be through live interactive audio and video over a HIPAA-compliant secure connection. Insurers are given the option to reimburse for ophthalmology and dermatology consultations using “store and forward” technology.
H.764 Broker fees
This bill passed the House last week and is now in the Senate. This bill would require disclosure of broker fees for health insurance beginning in 2012 and prohibit broker fees in the individual and small group markets by January 1, 2014. The bill as passed can be seen in its entirety at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2012/bills/House/H-764.pdf
H.498 Co-pays for primary mental health services
This bill was passed by House Health Care Committee on Friday and is now on the House Calendar for action this week. The bill requires health insurers to establish the same co-pays for primary mental health care services as for primary care physician services. It directs BISHCA to establish rules distinguishing between primary and specialty mental health services.
This bill was passed by the House Health care Committee Friday and is now on the House Calendar for action this week. The bill prevents health insurers from requiring that professional midwives and certified nurse midwives be under contract with the plan in order to receive reimbursement for their services until July 1, 2014. Midwives then may be required to be under insurer contract and show that they have liability coverage. The bill is intended to allow this two year period for midwives to obtain affordable liability insurance coverage before they are subject to health plan contract requirements that they have liability insurance.
S.223 Coverage for early childhood developmental disorders
This bill has been amended and approved by both the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and will be up for full Senate consideration as early as this week. The bill expands last year’s autism spectrum disorder mandate to cover other early childhood developmental disorders. The bill also extends the population covered under the mandate to include all children aged 18 months to 21 years. The Finance Committee recommended against a $50,000 annual cap on coverage for applied behavior analysis treatment that had been included in the Health and Welfare Committee version of the bill.
This bill has gained approval of both Senate committees. It requires health insurers to include naturopathic physicians as primary care providers, include naturopaths as medical homes under the Blueprint for Health, specifies that naturopaths may practice independently and without supervision, and allows naturopaths to apply for loans and grants from the state’s information technology fund to enable them to purchase electronic health record programs.
In other activity last week, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee began consideration of H.559, the House-passed bill merging the individual and small group markets in 2014 and establishing the parameters of the new health exchanges that become operational in 2014. The committee will continue that review in earnest this week.
Both the House and Senate will be spending considerable time on the floor this week as the both chambers work through the mass of bills pumped out by committees in advance of the “crossover deadline” last week.
If you are interested in this week’s Legislative Committee Meeting schedules, agendas, and a listing of other meetings and activities, please visit the Vermont Legislature’s website at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/Committee01.cfm Committee meetings are normally updated daily, and are subject to change without notice. If you plan on attending, you may want to call ahead to verify the agenda.
For more information on legislative proposals, visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont website at www.bcbsvt.com or call Leigh Tofferi at (802) 223-6131 or Kathy Parry at (802) 371-3205. If you wish to discontinue receiving these updates or know of anyone else who would like to receive it, please call Kathy Parry or send an e-mail to email@example.com