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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

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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