Massachusetts Medical Society: 2015-2016 MMS State Legislation

2015-2016 MMS State Legislation

Through its Committee on Legislation, House of Delegates, Officers and Government Relations staff, the MMS drafts legislation to reflect the policies of the MMS on a wide variety of health care related subjects. 

The following bills have been submitted to the state legislature for the 2015-2016 session through the assistance of individual legislators who have filed these bills on our behalf. Each bill will be assigned to a legislative committee such as Public Health or Judiciary which will hold a hearing on the bill in the next few months.

The MMS will present testimony on the bills we file and also on legislation with an impact on health care filed by other individuals and groups.

As the legislative session develops, information on bills will be available on our website and also through the Legislature's free web page devoted to the content and status of bills.

An Act to Promote Team Based Health Care

Sponsor: Kennedy      S.1170

This bill would ensure that evolving models of team-based healthcare will be led by physicians – the health care professionals best suited to guide other members of patient care teams – and would clarify the important role that advanced care nurses and physician assistants play as part of the teams.  In addition, the bill would further enhance transparency in team based care, ensuring that patients understand who is providing care and who is leading their team.  

Status:  Referred to Public Health

An Act to Reduce Administrative Burdens for Healthcare Providers

Sponsor: Cronin         H.973

This legislation would reduce the administrative burden of physicians by prohibiting health care entities from forcing health care providers to create new legal entities and/or establish new tax identification numbers as a condition of contracting to provide health care services. Such requirements are costly and burdensome for physicians and are enforced by healthcare payers simply in the interest of their convenience. 

Status:  Referred to Health Care Financing

An Act Improving Medical Decision Making

Sponsors: Markey/Kennedy   H.107; S.853

This bill would require collaboration in the health care industry around the issue of guardianship for incompetent patients lacking a health care proxy.  The purpose of the bill is to expedite the medical decision making process for such patients in order to ensure access to necessary care in a timely manner.  

Status:  H.107 referred to Children and Families. Hearing 7/28/15.  S.853 Referred to Judiciary. Hearing 6/24/15.

An Act Relative to Bicycle Safety

Sponsor: Brownsberger         S.1117

As rates of cyclists continue to rise in Boston and elsewhere in the state, and as helmet usage for bicyclists involved in accidents requiring EMS remains below 50%, this bill seeks to expand to persons of all ages the bike helmet requirement that currently applies to persons 16 years or younger. The bill also directs the Department of Public Health to pursue means by which to encourage bicycle operators to wear highly-visible waist-up clothing while bicycling.   

Status:  Referred to Public Health

An Act Improving Students’ Access to Life Saving Treatments

Sponsor: Kafka       H.417

This legislation would allow students to possess and self-administer glucose testing strips and insulin. The proposed language would also address the need for others to help students with diabetes by administering injection of glucagon. Students with diabetes may suffer from hypoglycemia as a result of exercise and too little food or an overdose of insulin.  In extreme cases, hypoglycemia may result in seizures or a coma. In most schools, a school nurse should be available to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia and respond appropriately, but in some settings such as school trips or athletic events a nurse may not be available.

Status:  Referred to Education. Hearing 6/3/15.


An Act Relative to Medical Peer Review  

Sponsor: Cusack         H.1918

This bill would help ensure high standards of care by updating existing peer review statutes and corresponding confidentiality protections.  Under current law, only certain peer review programs are afforded confidentiality. This legislation would expand that definition to include ACO’s and other entities with legitimate interests in reviewing the quality of care provided to the patients of the Commonwealth. 

Status:  Referred to Public Health

An Act Relative to Communications Between Health Insurers and Patients

Sponsor: Brady          H.801

This bill would prohibit health insurers and Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) from initiating communication with patients and their families regarding treatment options and code statuses without a physician’s knowledge or presence.  

Referred to Financial Services  

An Act Relative to the Valuation of Professional Practices in Divorce Proceedings

Sponsor: Brady          H.1200

This bill would ensure that professional corporations, including physician office practices, be valued at fair market value, as defined consistently with federal statutes governing other transactions involving physician practices.

Status:  Referred to Judiciary. Hearing 6/4/15.

An Act To Extend Patient Protections To Recipients Of MassHealth

Sponsor: Cusack         H.974

This bill would extend the protections of the Patient Protection Act to recipients of MassHealth and require Medicaid to meet the prompt payments provisions of that law for services rendered to MassHealth beneficiaries. It would also require timely notification of defective claims, limit recoupment, and prohibit retroactive denial of claims.

Status:  Referred to Health Care Financing

An Act Relative To Patient Care Access

Sponsors: Rep. Galvin/Kennedy         H.1309; S.516

This bill would increase reporting requirements for liability insurers; allow future sources to be included as evidence of collateral sources; require expert witnesses in actions against physicians to be board certified in the same specialty as the defendant physician; grant the Board of Registration in Medicine authority to review the testimony of expert witnesses from a clinical perspective as to the standard of medical care; allow for periodic payments of awards over $50,000; and eliminate joint and several liability.

Status:  H.1309 referred to Judiciary. S.516 referred to Financial Services

An Act Relative To Expert Witnesses In Actions For Medical Malpractice

Sponsor: Rep. Galvin             H.1307

This bill would require expert witnesses in actions against physicians to be board certified in the same specialty as the defendant physician; grants the Board of Registration in Medicine authority to review the testimony of expert witnesses from a clinical perspective as to the standard of medical care. 

Status:  Referred to Judiciary

An Act Relative To Insurance Companies And Quality Measures

Sponsors: Mariano/Creem     H.906; S.486

This bill would provide standards to ensure the integrity of the information used by insurers in measuring “quality” for pay-for-performance, tiering of co-payments and other purposes.  It would also ban the practice of placing physicians who are new to practice in a low quality/high cost tier. 

Status:  Referred to Financial Services

  An Act To Provide For The Autonomy Of Hospital Medical Staffs

Sponsor: Kafka          H.1990

This bill would ensure the autonomy of hospital medical staffs by statutorily establishing basic self-governing rights including establishing by-laws, electing officers, assessing dues and hiring independent legal counsel. Would also allow an existing med staff the right to reorganize and redefine its own governance structure as appropriate; all properly licensed and hospital credentialed physicians involved in patient care to be eligible for voice and vote in organized medical staff self-governance; the medical staff should be a representative democracy where members personally participate with voice and vote in the decision making and election of their representatives.

Status:  Referred to Public Health

An Act To Provide For The Privacy Of Information Submitted By Hospital Medical Staff

Sponsor: Kennedy      S.601

This bill would safeguard the confidentiality of hospital medical staff members’ personal and financial information disclosed pursuant to hospital conflict of interest policies.

Status:  Referred to Health Care Financing. Hearing 6/3/15.

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