MMS on Beacon Hill: A Look Ahead to 2016

State Update

BY RONNA WALLACE
MMS LEGISLATIVE CONSULTANT

With the state legislature’s mid-session holiday break upon us, it’s a good time to look back at some of the exciting new bills we are supporting and look ahead to expectations for 2016.

The MMS is proud to be working with the American Diabetes Association to advance legislation — H.417, “An Act Improving Students’ Access to Life Saving Treatments” — that would allow students to possess and self-administer glucose testing strips and insulin. The bill, sponsored by Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton), would also address the need for others to help students with diabetes by administering glucagon in an emergency.

Parents would be required to give written permission that would allow their child to self-manage. Also, they — along with the clinician who regularly treats the child for diabetes — would also have to certify that the child is competent to test their blood glucose and to administer insulin. Finally, the child must also agree to take appropriate safeguards to prevent others from being exposed to sharps or blood.

An exciting public safety initiative the MMS has undertaken is the promotion of safe bicycling. As rates of cyclists continue to rise, and as helmet usage for bicyclists involved in accidents requiring EMS remains below 50 percent, S.1117, “An Act Relative to Bicycle Safety,” would mandate helmet use for riders of all ages. The current bike helmet requirement only applies to riders 16 years of age or younger. The bill, sponsored by William N. Brownsberger (D-Belmont), also encourages riders to wear highly visible clothing.

Another important bill filed by the MMS deals with the issue of guardianship for incompetent patients lacking a health care proxy. H.107/S.853, “An Act Improving Medical Decision Making,” sponsored by Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth), would expedite the medical decision making process for such patients in order to ensure access to necessary care in a timely manner.

All three of these bills are new and were filed by the MMS for the first time in 2015. Legislation refiled by the MMS in this session includes the following, all of which have been filed at the request of members through the resolutions adopted during annual and interim meetings:

  • H.1918, “An Act Relative to Medical Peer Review,” sponsored by Mark J. Cusack (D-Braintree), would update existing peer-review statutes and corresponding confidentiality protections to include ACOs and other entities with legitimate interests in reviewing the quality of care provided to the patients of the Commonwealth.
  • H.801, “An Act Relative to Communications between Health Insurers and Patients,”sponsored by Michael D. Brady (D-Brockton), would prohibit health insurers and ACOs from initiating communication with patients and their families regarding treatment options and code statuses without a physician’s knowledge or presence.
  • H.974, “An Act to Extend Patient Protections to Recipients of MassHealth,” also sponsored by Cusack, would extend the protections of the Patient Protection Act to recipients of MassHealth, require Medicaid to meet the prompt payments provisions of that law, require timely notification of defective claims, limit recoupment, and prohibit retroactive denial of claims.
  • H.1309/S.516, “An Act Relative To Patient Care Access,” sponsored by William C. Galvin (D-Canton), 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.
  • H.1307, “An Act Relative to Expert Witnesses in Actions for Medical Malpractice,” also sponsored by Galvin, would require expert witnesses in actions against physicians to be board-certified in the same specialty as the defendant physician and 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.

These bills are pending before joint committees awaiting further action. The MMS will continue to support these important bills for physicians and their patients in 2016.

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