By Rosana Garcia
See Part 1 of our 2016 Legislative Update here, and as promised, here is Part 2 of our Legislative Update.
Changes to last year’s SB 811 (PA 15-146)
SB 289 (Public Act 16-77) made changes to last year’s omnibus health care bill, SB 811. Most of the changes are related to patient access to cost and quality information, consumer websites that insurers must maintain, and facility fees. A quick rundown:
- SB 811 requires that hospitals notify patients who are scheduling non-emergency procedures that they can request cost and quality information, starting January 1, 2017. The new law delays the start date of this requirement. Now, hospitals are waiting on reports from the Insurance and Public Health Commissioners. 180 days after those reports are filed, hospitals are required to start providing cost and quality information.
- SB 811 required that all health carriers maintain a website and toll-free telephone number for consumers to access information on costs associated with their plan. The new law delays the start up of these resources until January 1, 2017, and does not apply to any health carriers who have less than 40,000 members.
- SB 811 prohibits hospitals, health systems and hospital-based facilities from collecting facility fees if the services were provided off the hospital campus, and limits facility fees to what Medicare pays, unless the service was provided at an off-site emergency room. The new law permits facility fees for all facilities if the patient is covered under Medicare, Medicaid (HUSKY in Connecticut) or a workers’ compensation plan.
Another major change in SB 289 is an amendment that creates new position in the state – a Health Information Technology Officer – who will lead the state’s efforts to put health information technology in place.
Last year’s SB 811 called for an HIE – Health Information Exchange – that would make all of the health data in different systems interoperable. This basically means that no matter where your health information is, your doctors and hospitals will be able to access it.
In SB 811, the responsibility for the HIE was placed with the Department of Social Services, as they have a large amount of health data via their Medicaid programs. SB 289 creates a new position outside of any agency that will be responsible for coordinating all health IT efforts in the state, including the All Payers Claim Database and technology for the State Innovation Model grant.
For more detail on this bill, see the bill analysis.
Other health care bills
Here’s a quick rundown of other health care bills from the 2016 legislative session:
- SB 351 (Public Act 16-95) limits non-compete clauses for physician contracts and allows more entities to employ doctors. Arielle Levin Becker covered this bill and its passage in detail in her May 4, 2016 article “Revised physician non-compete bill wins final passage” (CT Mirror)
- SB 309 (Special Act 16-18) establishes a task force to study value-based pricing of prescription drugs. The task force has until January 1, 2017 to submit their report.
- SB 298 (Public Act 16-198) allows Medicaid (HUSKY) to pay for telehealth services. This is very positive for those in rural areas and in medically under-served areas.
There were also bills regarding health care that didn’t pass. For example, SB 373 would have limited when health insurance policies could change drug formularies. This was meant to protect consumers from insurers changing prescription coverage during a policy year.
Understanding Connecticut’s New Health Care Law (SB 811)
Our prior coverage of Public Act 15-146 (SB 811):