Health care bills in review: some that made it, others to watch
Now that the session has adjourned (early) we can take stock of health care bills that passed and some interesting ones that didn’t. All in all, the Legislature passed a record 573 bills, several of which will shape the future health care landscape in the state.
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Many outlets have talked about Medicaid expansion, Utah’s abortion bill, and the Tobacco 21 law, but here are 4 not quite as “sexy” bills that you might have missed.
HB 178 – Health Care Charges
Despite its innocuous title, HB 178 is a health care price transparency bill. If signed, the law will require the state auditor to publish median paid amount of the top 50 procedures paid in the state by volume and require the State Auditor’s office to develop a health transparency tool, which the office is already in the process of creating. Previously, the state collected similar data, but was not required to publish or make it easily searchable for the average person.
HB 370 – Pharmacy Benefit Manager Amendments
Also with the broad support of 34 co-sponsors, the law imposes licensing requirements, a fiduciary duty on PBMs to insurers they are contracted with, and requires reporting of rebates and fees to the Department of Insurance. There has been criticism of PBMs for driving up drug prices by not passing on rebate and cost differential savings on to patients. Sponsors hope that regulation of PBMs will drive down overall drug prices.
HB 392 – Telemedicine Reimbursement Amendments
This law began as a bill that would mandate mental health parity in telemedicine services, but was amended to provide that all telemedicine services be paid at the same Medicaid rate as traditionally provided services. Proponents hope it will increase accessibility to health care especially in rural and underserved areas of the state.
SB 11 – Medicaid Dental
This bill was passed by both chambers with strong support and forwarded on to the governor. If signed, it restores dental coverage for adults 65 and over on Medicaid. The University of Utah Dental School has agreed to pay the state’s portion of the federal Medicaid rate to make the bill fiscally neutral. The state estimates that an additional 10,200 clients age 65 and older will gain coverage under the new law.
By the same token, sometimes when bills fail they die quietly and fade away never to be heard from again. Here are 4 that did not pass in Utah this session that we think may be resurrected in future years.
HB 113 – Hygiene Tax Act
Following a growing national trend, this bill would have exempted incontinence, feminine hygiene products, and diapers from sales tax. This is the fourth time this bill has been brought before the legislature and in an effort to keep these necessary health related items more affordable. In testimony, Representative Duckworth explained that she would keep coming back if that’s what it takes to train people to understand how important keeping these products affordable can be for low-income women and seniors.
HB 121 – End of Life Prescriptions
Introduced each year since 2015, this bill failed yet again without even a committee hearing. This bill would establish a procedure for a terminally ill individual to end their lives.
HB 267 – Prescription Drug Importation Program
This bill would have required the Department of Health to submit certifications and requests to the federal government that would allow the state to move forward with a plan to import drugs (presumably at a cheaper cost) from foreign countries. The hope was that this bill would serve as another method to drive down prescription drug costs.
HB 399 – Prohibition of Conversion Therapy on Minors
This bill would have banned “conversion therapy” on minors in the state in an effort to stem LGBT youth suicide. However, the bill stalled after changes were made in House committee that supporters said undermined the original intent of the bill.