For the Week Ending April 28, 2012
Legislators extended their work week into Saturday in an attempt to clear a backlog of bills prior to final adjournment now anticipated for late this week. Health care bills have fallen out of the public spotlight as more controversial events such as the Green Mountain Power – Central Vermont Public Service utility merger and rancor among Senators that is disrupting the Senate have grabbed the headlines.
However, lawmakers did take action on several remaining health care bills. A conference committee was appointed to resolve differences between the House and Senate on the session’s most important bill (H.559) relating to establishment of the state’s new health care exchange. Conferees met briefly late Friday to outline those differences. The meeting emphasized how few differences there are and that there should be a quick resolution. The most critical issue identified by the House Health Care chair is how to establish legislative oversight over the health care reform process when the legislature is not in session. The House conferees also proposed that the conference committee adopt provisions similar to those contained in a House-passed bill (H.674) that prescribe how brokers are compensated for their work.
A bill (S.200) to require insurer public reporting on claims denials and administrative expenses is expected to be more difficult to resolve. Passed by the House as a simple requirement on health insurers to report on claims denials, the House amended the bill to require detailed public reporting on insurer administrative expenses and provisions that establish limitations on pharmacy audits including that no audits may be conducted in weeks where there are federal holidays. The Senate agreed Saturday not to accept the House amendments and ask for a conference committee.
The Senate was in a more conciliatory mood on two other bills, agreeing to concur with House proposals of amendments. The Senate concurred with minor House amendments on a telemedicine bill (H.37) and a bill requiring insurance coverage for early childhood developmental disorders (S.223). Those bills will now go to the governor for his signature and enactment into law.
The House and Senate will convene again Monday in an attempt to conclude their work by Friday or Saturday.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.