For the Week Ending April 6, 2012
Vermont lawmakers kept up their furious pace last week as committees rushed to finalize work on bills in order to meet legislative leaders’ goal to adjourn by the end of April. Senate morning committees will shut down at the end of this week to allow afternoon “money” committees more time to wrap-up the budget and other key bills that must pass before adjournment.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee considered a House-passed bill last week (H.37) related to telemedicine. Insurers support the bill as it passed the House and have come to agreement on some minor amendments proposed by Fletcher Allen Health Care. Pending, however, is a request from Planned Parenthood to expand the scope of telemedicine to include interaction with their clients/patients in their own homes, an expansion that insurers do not support. This expansion will be discussed again in committee on Tuesday.
The committee voted out the session’s major health reform bill (H.559) early last week with amendments requiring insurers to use standard prior authorization forms, insurer rate approval language allowing the green mountain care board to “modify” rate requests similar to current practice with BISHCA, and a provision allowing brokers to enroll individuals and small businesses in the exchange and be compensated for it.
The Senate Finance Committee, now in formal possession of H.559 for their review of insurance-related issues, heard from associations representing small businesses, and the administration’s director of health care reform about various aspects of the exchange. The committee will hear about the broker related issues in the Health & Welfare amendment to the bill as well as broker conditions contained in another House passed bill (H.764) on Tuesday. Finance has been given until the end of this week to complete its review of H.559.
The House Health Care Committee last week completed its work on a bill (S.199) to eliminate a philosophical exemption for a requirement that children be vaccinated before enrolling in schools. The committee pulled back from the Senate’s action that would remove the exemption, opting instead for a more educational approach.
The committee also heard testimony on a bill (S.223) to expand last year’s autism mandate up to age 21 from the previous requirement covering children up to age six, and broaden the scope to include all early childhood developmental disorders. The committee hoped to pass the bill Friday but ran out of time due to longer than expected floor debate on House reapportionment issues. The committee will revisit the bill this week and may consider hiking the age to 26 in order to align with newly enacted federal coverage requirements for “children” to be on their parent’s plan.
The House committee also heard testimony on S.200 to increase the type and amount of information insurers must report and make available to the public. Rep. Paul Poirier (I-Barre City) reiterated his desire to add requirements for reporting on salaries, marketing costs, lobbying costs, etc. to the bill. BCBSVT will offer substitute language for the Senate passed version that would add claims denial information to data already gathered and reported through Rule 9-03.
The House committee also heard testimony on a bill (H.674) in response to pharmacists’ complaints about the audit practices of PBMs. This is the first time this issue has surfaced this year, and the committee may try to attach these provisions to S.200.
The House Judiciary Committee last week heard testimony on the midwives bill (H.777) that was referred to them from the House floor over liability issues. The committee will hear additional testimony Tuesday.
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