MSNJ Legislative Update – March 7, 2013

AMA helps MSNJ Push Medical Liability Reform Legislation
As we reported in February, MSNJ supports a new medical liability reform bill. A.1831, sponsored by Chairman Conaway, would prohibit the addition of defendants using fictitious names at least 120 days prior to the date on which the action is set for trial. This bill also clarifies the existing legal immunity for health care professional who volunteers to respond in good faith to an emergency at a hospital or health care facility, removing the requirement that the service be provided without payment. The AMA has sent Assembly leadership support letters to help our effort.

MSNJ Continues to Support Mental Health Parity Legislation
MSNJ submitted support in the Senate Budget Committee for S.1253, sponsored by Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph Vitale, which revises statutory mental health coverage requirements and requires all health insurers and the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) to cover treatment for alcoholism and other substance-use disorders under the same terms and conditions as for other diseases or illnesses. MSNJ supports mental health parity policies, as they increase access to proper diagnosis and care of ailments that are often dismissed. The bill now heads to the floor for a full vote. In addition, AR.144, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Oliver, urges Governor Christie’s Administration not to apply for annual exemption from requirements of federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

MSNJ Continues to Support Insurance Coverage of Off-label Drug Use
In the Assembly Appropriations Committee, MSNJ supported A.1830, sponsored by Assembly Members Herbert Conaway, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Ruben Ramos. This legislation would require insurance coverage in the individual and small employer markets and SHBP and SEHBP for “off-label” uses of certain drugs.

MSNJ Continues to Support Insurance Coverage for Eye Drop Prescriptions
In the Senate Budget Committee, MSNJ supported A.3080, which requires health benefits coverage for refills of prescription eye drops under certain conditions. The requirement to provide this coverage is conditioned on two factors: (1) the prescribing health care practitioner indicates on the original prescription that additional quantities of the prescription eye drops are needed; and (2) the refill requested does not exceed the number of additional quantities indicated on the original prescription by the prescribing health care practitioner. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services issued guidance on topical ophthalmics to prevent the unintended interruption of drug therapy in situations in which patients legitimately need earlier refills of prescription eye drops. While the guidance acknowledges that health insurers monitor appropriate refill periods as part of utilization management, the guidance also recognizes that the self-administration of prescription eye drops may involve some reasonable amount of waste and that earlier refills may be appropriate in some circumstances.

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About MSNJ

Founded in 1766, the Medical Society of New Jersey is the oldest professional society in the United States. The organization and its dues-paying members are dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, working to ensure the sanctity of the physician–patient relationship. In representing all medical disciplines, MSNJ advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike, for the delivery of the highest quality medical care. This allows response to the patients’ individual, varied needs, in an ethical and compassionate environment, in order to create a healthy Garden State and healthy citizens.

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