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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

MD Assembly considers reforms to health-insurance coverage

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Thursday, February 22, 2024   

Committees in both chambers of the General Assembly are hearing testimony on a measure to change how health insurance companies in Maryland make treatment coverage decisions.

The process of what is known as 'utilization review' can be time-consuming and opaque, and criteria may be set by the insurance company instead of clinical standards.

The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony Wednesday on Senate Bill 791, which would require insurers to use expert nonprofit clinical guidelines to make coverage decisions.

David Lloyd, chief policy officer for the nonprofit mental health advocacy organization Inseparable, said the approach will remove barriers to care.

"It puts in place important patient protections to help people get the care they need for their mental health and substance use conditions," Lloyd pointed out.

Testimony on the companion bill will be heard in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on Thursday.

The measure would ensure patients can remain on a drug if it has been authorized in the past, and can keep existing drug coverage for 90 days if they change insurance companies. The bills would also require insurers to establish a real-time benefits check, where prescribers can view an electronic health record to see insurance coverage, drug costs and more.

Lloyd contended it should speed up the authorization process, which can be slow and harmful to people in crisis.

"Particularly for people who are struggling with mental health or substance use challenges, these types of barriers can be really harmful," Lloyd pointed out. "And can make it so that they don't ultimately get the treatments that are critical for their well-being."

If passed, the electronic health record system would be required to begin by July 2026.

Disclosure: Inseparable contributes to our fund for reporting on Criminal Justice, Health Issues, Mental Health, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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