Maryland policymakers began the hearing process for several health bills this week during the 2022 legislative session. Here are the latest bills to watch, from increasing reimbursement rates for emergency medical services to newborn screening.
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This bill clarifies that the newborn screening program under the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) requires testing for each condition listed in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Recommended Uniform Screening (RUS) Program. If a new condition is added to RUS, then it shall be implemented in MDH’s screening within two years.
This would ensure the inclusion of screening for four new conditions, including x-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a condition that affects the nervous system.
Jennifer Payne, who was one of the first people in Maryland diagnosed with phenylketonuria (PKU), another rare genetic disorder, says she was able to be “spared a lifetime of institutional care” due to early detection of her condition through the MDH newborn screening program.
For the last 20 years, reimbursement rates that MDH pays to emergency service transporters have been $100, which has not been adjusted for inflation rates. This bill will require MDH to increase the reimbursement rates by $25 each fiscal year, until the amount reaches $300.
The bill also aims to disincentivize unnecessary transportation to hospitals. Under H.B. 44, transporters would have the option to be reimbursed for treating a patient on-site without moving them to a hospital. Additionally, reimbursement would also cover the use of telehealth as a course of treatment.
Sponsored by Del. Marlon Amprey (D – Baltimore City), H.B. 97 would establish a workgroup to study and provide recommendations for supporting underrepresented communities in the behavioral health provider sphere, including Black, Latino, and Asian American Pacific Islander groups.
“We are one of the most diverse state in the Union,” Amprey said during the bill hearing. “It’s an unfortunate reality in our state that we don’t have that diversity reflected [in behavioral health care].”
H.B. 97 passed the House during the 2021 session before stalling in the Senate. This week, it unanimously passed the House Health and Government Operations Committee and is now awaiting second reading.