March 22, 2016
The 2016 legislative session is in full swing!
As you know, I focus on improving the lives of Maryland families and supporting our small businesses. I am thrilled to report that I have had major victories already this session. Read on to learn more! You can also click here for a complete list of all the bills that I am sponsoring or co-sponsoring this year.
Contraceptive Equity Act Passes!
A whopping 40% of Maryland pregnancies are unintended. Working with Planned Parenthood, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists (ACOG) and National Association of Social Workers, I set out to reduce this number by increasing access to birth control in Maryland. If enacted, this will be the most comprehensive expansion on insurance coverage for family planning in the nation.
This bill expands and builds on the family planning provisions of the Affordable Care Act. It requires insurance companies to cover more forms of birth control with no co-pays, it bans preauthorizations for long acting reversible contraception (like IUD's and implants), it mandates vasectomy coverage for men, and it requires pharmacies to distribute six months of birth control pills at a time- so women are less likely to become pregnant because they missed a pill when they missed their refill deadline.
Family planning is associated with improved social and economic outcomes in education, income and family stability – increasing access to birth control helps everyone!
The Contraceptive Equity Act – HB 1005 – passed the House with a vote of 101-38 today! It should be voted on by the Senate within the next few days. To learn more, you can watch this news story on WJZ-13 about the bill.
The Contraceptive Equity Act will make Maryland first in the nation for birth control access.
Insurance Network Adequacy Reform Passes!
Have you ever tried to find an in-network specialist, only to learn that there are not available providers within a reasonable distance, or taking new appointments? Have you ever had to call through dozens of providers listed in your insurance carrier directory, just to find one who is still in-network and taking appointments? If so, you are not alone.
This is an ongoing problem I have been working on with insurance networks and advocates including the Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform and the Mental Health Association of Maryland for years. All Marylanders deserve timely access to primary and specialty care within their insurance plan network. When people cannot secure timely access, they face higher expenses, or delay even forgo care. HB 1318 will establish quantitative standards for insurance networks.
Two problems reportedly faced today within insurance networks are: the adequacy of provider networks for enrollees and inaccuracies in the provider directory. Mental Health Association of Maryland’s 2015 study found that only 14% of the psychiatrists listed in the Qualified Health Plan directories were taking the insurance and available for an appointment in the next six weeks. This bill requires insurance companies to monitor and assure the sufficiency of their network to address the needs of all medical needs. HB 1318 passed the House unanimously.
As chair of the Economic Development Committee for the Montgomery County Delegation I was very busy this session hearing legislation that affects our local business community and our local election law. The House has already voted favorably on HB 1064 which to streamline the process for obtaining a license to sell alcohol in Montgomery County (with appropriate community approval) and it will also allow businesses to open in our community, such as True Respite, a brewery that will be opening soon in downtown Bethesda.
The Governor has already approved emergency bill – HB 204 – Early Voting Centers MC 14-16 – requiring Montgomery County to have 10 early voting centers, one of which must be located at the Potomac Community Recreation center. To learn more about all the Montgomery County local bills and their status please click here.
If you have any questions about the bills listed here please reach out to my office at Ariana.Kelly@house.state.
Thank you for the privilege of representing you in Annapolis,