Legislative Hotline

2005 SESSION OF THE
MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

 

 

Volume 13, Number 6������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� March 2, 2005

Here are some of the hot issues as the 2005 Legislative Session develops:

Slots Bill Advances

Medical Liability Corrective Bill

 


BILLS INTRODUCED
STAFF CONTACT INFORMATION

 

Slots Bill Advances

 

Today, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a slot machine bill by a close vote of 71 to 66.The bill now goes to a joint conference committee, composed of both Senators and Delegates, to negotiate the differences in the two bills.The House version authorizes 9,500 slot machines at four locations in Anne Arundel, Harford and Frederick Counties, and at the state-owned Rocky Gap resort in Allegany County, and excludes Baltimore City and Prince George’s County from the bill.The Senate’s version would authorize 15,500 slot machines at seven sites, but does not cite specific locations, and could include Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.The Senate bill sets up a commission to determine where to set up the machines.Both bills earmark money to pay for K-12 education and close to $150 million per year for K-12 school construction.

 

For more Information please contact Bret Schreiber.

 

[ Go to Top]

Medical Liability Corrective Bill

 

On Wednesday, both the Senate and the House held hearings on SB 836/HB 1359 - Maryland Patients' Access to Quality Health Care Act of 2004, which is the corrective bill for to HB 2, the medical liability reform legislation passed during the 2004 Special Session.  The Bill contains several important provisions including eliminating excessive reporting requirements and creating environment in which insurers will continue in the Maryland market and participate in the rate stabilization fund.Most important to Hopkins was a delay in the implementation of the 2% premium tax on Managed Care Organizations until April 1, 2005.Bobby Neall testified in support of the legislation on behalf of Priority Partners along with Mike Johanson representing Maryland Physicians Care and Steve Larson of AmeriGroup.

 

For more information please contact Jim Kaufman.

[ Go to Top]


BILLS INTRODUCED

Budget – Capital

Business Operations

Environmental Health

General Education

General Health Care

Health Care Facilities

Health Care Practitioners

Health Insurance

Higher Education

Long Term Care/Nursing Homes

Medicaid

Medical Liability

Tort Reform

Miscellaneous

 


BILLS INTRODUCED

Budget - Capital

HB1475Creation of a State Debt - Baltimore County - Sheppard Pratt Health System

The bill creates a $2.0 million state grant for the construction of a replacement psychiatric hospital building on the Towson Campus of the Sheppard Pratt Health System.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Jim Kaufman

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Business Operations

SB0755Procurement - Minority Business Participation Program - Impact of Goals on Nonprofit Entities

Senate Bill 755 requires that a certification agency designated by the Board of Public Works, together with the Special Secretary for the Office of Minority Affairs, examine the State procurement law's Minority Business Participation Program as it relates to participation by nonprofit entities.The bill requires the certification agency and the Special Secretary to assess the impact of the goals of the Minority Business Participation Program on nonprofit entities and to submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 1,

2005.They particularly want to see the impact on nonprofits ability to compete for and be awarded contracts valued at less than $200,000.

 

Effective Date:July 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Bret Schreiber

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Environment Health

HB1203Environment - Construction on Golf Course Property - Soil Samples

This bill amends �4-105 of the Environment Article.A person may not begin or perform any construction on a property that has been previously utilized as a golf course unless the person engages an independent environmental consultant, to be chosen jointly by the person and any community association affected by the construction, for the taking of soil samples.The independent environmental consultant shall take a total of at least 10 soil samples from the property, each at a depth of at least 4 feet, from the following locations:

 

  1. Two from the greens;
  2. Two from the pesticide or herbicide storage area;
  3. One from a wooded area; and
  4. The remainder from random locations on the property.

 

Each sample shall be tested for arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, chlordane, and ddt. At least one of the 10 samples shall be duplicated, as appropriate, to confirm laboratory results.The independent environmental consultant shall make available to any community association affected by the construction the results of all samples, including a projected environmental impact for each substance that is found.If a detrimental public health or environmental impact is projected for any substance found, the person shall engage an independent environmental consultant, to be chosen jointly by the person and any community association affected by the construction, to perform a site-specific risk assessment.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

General Education

HB0929Education - Baltimore City Public Schools - Facilities

House Bill 929 repeals a provision of law requiring the transfer of public school buildings from the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.The bill also repeals a requirement that prohibits the State from funding capital improvements to public school buildings in Baltimore City after 2009.This bill specifically puts control of the Baltimore City Public Schools under the jurisdiction of the Mayor's office.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Bret Schreiber



HB1297Education - Public Schools - Funding

House Bill 1297 requires the State to provide not less than $30,000,000 in fiscal year 2006 and each fiscal year thereafter to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.The bill requires that the funds be used for access to pre-kindergarten and early childhood education programs, smaller class sizes, student enrichment programs, including art and education, purchase of classroom supplies and textbooks, and the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers.

 

Effective Date:July 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Bret Schreiber

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

General Health Care

hb1358State Police Helicopter Replacement Fund and Volunteer Company Assistance Fund - Moving Violations - Surcharges

This bill establishes the State Police Helicopter Replacement Fund.A police officer issuing a traffic citation for a violation in which points may be assessed shall add a $50 surcharge to the amount of the total fine before presenting the citation to the driver being charged.In a traffic case in which points may be assessed,after conviction, the court shall add a $50 surcharge to any fine imposed by the court.In fiscal years 2006 and 2007, the first $20 million in surcharges collected shall be credited to the Volunteer Company Assistance Fund.The remainder of the surcharges collected shall be credited to the State Police Helicopter Replacement Fund.The Fund may be used only for the procurement of new helicopters and auxiliary helicopter equipment, ground support equipment, and other capital equipment related to helicopters for the Maryland State Police.

 

Effective Date:July 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Health Care Facilities

SB0688Environment - Stormwater Management - Inspections and Water Quality Standards

This bill amends �4-203 of the Environment Article – Stormwater Management.The purpose of the bill is to establish specific post-development water quality standards.The bill stipulates that at the conclusion of any land clearing, construction, development, drainage, or soil movement, the Department shall inspect the site where the activity occurred for compliance with the subtitle.

 

As part of the required inspection, the Department may test stormwater runoff and any downstream water that the Department reasonably determines may be affected by the land clearing, construction, development, drainage, or soil movement.

 

The section applies regardless of whether it is done in compliance with a stormwater management plan.A person may not cause or contribute to a violation of water quality standards, including any increase in turbidity that causes a substantial visible contrast to predevelopment conditions, any increase in suspended, colloidal, or settleable solids that causes deposition of the solids or impairs the waters for their best uses, and any residue or visible film from oil, grease, or any other substance insoluble in water.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Health Care Practitioners

HB0630Baltimore County - Speed Monitoring Systems - Liberty Road, Route 26

This bill requires Baltimore County to place speed monitoring systems along Liberty Road (Route 26) that is within the boundaries of Baltimore County.It requires Baltimore County to post signs on Liberty Road that include the notice "speed monitoring cameras in operation".The driver of a motor vehicle is subject to a civil penalty if the motor vehicle is recorded by a speed monitoring system while being operated in violation of this subtitle.A civil penalty under this subsection may not exceed $100.A violation for which a civil penalty is imposed is not a moving violation and may not be recorded on the driving record of the owner or driver of the vehicle.It may be treated as a parking violation.Revenue from the citation shall be deposited to the Maryland Trauma Physician Services Fund established under � 19-130 of the Health - General Article.The bill takes effect October 1st for a period of 3 years and then sunsets.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Health Insurance

sb0779Health Insurance - Annual Human Papillomavirus Screening Test - Coverage

The bill requires insurers and non profit health service plans to provide coverage for an annual human papillomavirus screening test to women who are under the age of 20 years if they are sexually active; and at least 20 years old if they have multiple risk factors, and men who have multiple risk factors.Insurers and non profit health service plans must also provide educational material to enrollees, members, or subscribers on the health risks associated with the human papillomavirus and the availability of coverage for the screening test.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Sheila Higdon

 


SB0918Health Insurance - Mandated Benefits - In Vitro Fertilization - Coverage

The bill alters the circumstance under which health insurance carriers may refuse to issue a policy.The bill prevents a carrier from denying coverage to an applicant that was tested for infertility or a test performed resulted in a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Jim Kaufman

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Higher Education

HB1064Constitutional Amendment - Higher Education - System and Funding

House Bill 1064 adds a new section to the Maryland Constitution to require the funding necessary to support and maintain the public institutions of higher education in Maryland.This bill will be submitted as an amendment to the voters of the State of Maryland for their adoption or rejection in November 2006.

 

Effective Date:Constitutional Amendment

 

For more information, please contact:Bret Schreiber

 

 

HB1286Access to Quality in Higher Education Act of 2005

House Bill 1286 requires the Governor to include in the fiscal 2007 State budget submission specific appropriations for the University System of Maryland (USM), Morgan State University (MSU), and St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM).The bill also mandates annual increases for the institutions of at least 5% per full-time equivalent (FTE) resident student beginning in fiscal 2008.USM, MSU, and SMCM would also receive additional fiscal 2006 funding if a supplementary appropriation bill is enacted or a supplemental budget submitted by the Governor includes the funding.The bill also reduces tuition rates for the 2005-2006 academic year and limits future tuition increases to 4% annually.

 

Effective Date:July 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Bret Schreiber



HB1308Higher Education - Tuition Limitation Based on Adequate Funding

House Bill 1308 limits the amount of the annual increase in tuition that may be charged each academic year to a resident undergraduate student at University System of Maryland institutions and Morgan State University to no more than 5% for academic years 2006 and 2007 so long as adequate funding is provided for in the General Fund budget.

 

Effective Date:July 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Bret Schreiber

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Long Term Care/Nursing Homes

HB1423Assisted Living Programs - Services and Facilities Search Engine

The bill requires the Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ) to develop a web page with a search engine that aids a consumer of assisted living services in finding an assisted living program in the State that meets the needs of the consumer.OHCQ must model the search engine on the information provided in the Federal GAO-04-684 report.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Sheila Higdon



HB1424Assisted Living Programs - Services Disclosure Statement

The bill requires DHMH to develop a standard assisted living program services disclosure statement to provide potential consumers with information about the actual services that an assisted living program provides to aid consumers in selecting the most appropriate program for their needs.

 

The bill also requires each assisted living program providing services to 5 or more individuals to file an assisted living program services disclosure statement with OHCQ as part of their application for licensure.If a program has a change in the services it provides, the program must file an amended statement within 30 days of the change.OHCQ will also be required to provide a paper copy of the assisted living program services disclosure statement of any licensed assisted living program to any person the requires a copy, and develop a website for access to service disclosure statements of any licensed assisted living program.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Sheila Higdon

 


HB1425Assisted Living Facilities - Adult Family Homes - Evaluation of Care Provided

The bill requires the OHCQ Assisted Living Forum within DHMH to conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of care provided by Adult Family Homes in Maryland and report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2006. The report shall address and make recommendations relating to the competency of the caregivers, the care of the residents, quality of life and access to community services of the residents, safety of the facility and liability insurance status of the facility.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Sheila Higdon

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Medicaid

HB1499Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Atypical Antipsychotic Medications

The bill prevents the Secretary from requiring prescriptions for atypical antipsychotic medications receive prior authorizations for beneficiates enrolled in all state pharmacy assistance programs with the exception of HealthChoice Managed Care Organizations.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Jim Kaufman



SB0895Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Maryland Health Insurance Plan - Computerized Eligibility System

The bill authorizes the Maryland Health Insurance Program to spend up to $15 million to develop a computerized eligibility system for the Medicaid Program.The system will enroll eligible individuals, refer eligible individuals to MHIP, and make referrals to other state and federal programs providing inpatient hospitalization for uninsured patients.

 

The bill requires that before an RFP is issued, MHIP must submit a report to DHMH that will enumerate the specifications of the new system, demonstrate how the system will be more efficient and effective than the current system, and estimate the reduction on hospital uncompensated care.The bill takes effect when the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approve a waiver regarding the proposed funding of the computer system.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Jim Kaufman



SB0899Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Rare and Expensive Case Management Program

The bill establishes the Rare and Expensive Case Management Program within Medicaid.Individuals who are diagnosed with Rare and Expensive conditions may choose to participate in the REM Program, with their healthcare providers being paid on a fee-for-service basis, or may elect to participate in a Managed Care Organization (MCO).The bill requires the Secretary to create a workgroup to evaluate the REM program to ensure its efficiency and make recommendations about the utilization of the Program.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Jim Kaufman

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Medical Liability

Sb0836Maryland Patients' Access to Quality Health Care Act of 2004 - Implementation and Corrective Provisions

The emergency bill makes substantive and technical changes to HB 2 - Maryland Patients’ Access to Quality Health Care Act of 2004 (adopted during the special session).The bill adjusts the actuarially soundness test for the MCOs capitation payments to include expenses and taxes, allowed under federal law, that are incurred by MCOs in providing care.In addition to this change, the bill moves the effective date of the MCO tax from January 1, 2005 to April 1, 2005.As a result of this delay in the MCO tax, the bill alters the funding for the Maryland Health Care Provider Rate Stabilization Fund to:

 

FY 2005 - $3.5 million for the Medicaid,

FY 2006 - $52.0 million to the Rate Stabilization Account and $30.0 million for Medicaid,

FY 2007 - $45.0 million for the Rate Stabilization Account and $45.0 million for Medicaid,

FY 2008 - $35.0 million for the Rate Stabilization Account and $65.0 million for Medicaid,

FY 2009 - $25.0 million for the Rate Stabilization Account and the remaining amount to Medicaid, and

FY 2010 and thereafter, the entire amount is dedicated to Medicaid.

 

The bill clarifies that the purpose of the fund is to retain health care provides by allowing liability insurers to charge lower rates, increase the FFS rates paid by Medicaid, pay specified MCO providers consistent with the FFS rates paid by Medicaid, and increase capitation rates paid to MCOs.

 

The bill requires the Insurance Commissioner to deny an application or refuse to renew a certificate if the insurer fails to pay the assessment for the People’s Counsel Division in the Office of the Attorney General.The bill also modifies the information included in reports from a medical professional liability insurer to include any proprietary information and the information to be filed on specific claims be filed for each claim filed with the Director of Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution office.The Insurance Commissioner must adopt regulations on the submission of the reports and impose a civil penalty up to $5,000 for facility to report.

 

Effective Date:Emergency Measure

 

For more information, please contact:Jim Kaufman

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Tort Reform

 


HB0823Circuit Courts - Medical Injury - Medical Malpractice Review Panel

The bill amends � 3-2A-06E of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article.An action filed under this subtitle shall be submitted to a medical malpractice review panel for its review and decision.The circuit administrative judge shall appoint a circuit court judge or a retired circuit court judge of the circuit to chair the panel.All time limits under this subtitle or the Maryland rules applicable to an action shall be suspended from the date on which the complaint is referred to the circuit administrative judge until 30 days following the day the parties and the court receive the decision of the panel.The chair shall: choose 5 individuals from the health care provider list, together with a brief biographical statement for each individual and send the list, by certified mail, to each party.Each individual chosen by the chair shall have clinical experience or academic experience in the same or related specialty as the defendant, or in the field of health care in which the defendant provided care or treatment to the plaintiff.Within 15 days after receiving the list, each party may strike one name from the list and return the list to the chair.The chair shall appoint the membership of the panel after receiving the strikes of the plaintiff and defendant.

 

Within 15 days of the appointment of the panel, the chair shall notify the parties of the membership of the panel and convene the panel in an initial conference. At the initial conference, the chair shall establish a schedule for the filing of all relevant records and reasonable discovery which shall be filed at least 30 days before the hearing date.A hearing on the action shall be held no later than 60 days from the date of initial conference.The Maryland rules do not apply to the admission of evidence under this section. The hearing shall be closed to the public.The chair may not vote in the deliberations of the panel.

 

A panel shall determine, after holding a hearing, if the evidence presented, if properly substantiated, is sufficient to raise a legitimate question that the defendant's actions or omissions were a departure from the appropriate standard of care as charged in the plaintiff's complaint and if the defendant's actions or omissions proximately caused the plaintiff's alleged injury.A panel shall issue its written decision within 30 days of the hearing. The decision shall answer the following questions: 1. whether there is a reasonable medical or professional probability that the acts or omissions complained of or found by the panel to exist constitute a departure from the applicable standard of care by the health care provider charged with that care; and 2. whether there is a reasonable medical or professional probability that the acts or omissions complained or as found by the panel.

 

The panel's decision, signed by the panel members, shall be served by certified mail on the court and the parties within 5 days of the date of issuance of the decision.Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the costs of the hearing and reasonable expenses of review shall be divided equally between the parties.A party may reject the decision of the panel issued for any reason.The party rejecting the decision shall file a notice of rejection with the chair and the circuit administrative judge of the circuit in which the action was filed or the United States District Court and serve the notice on the other party within 30 days of receiving the decision. On receiving the notice of rejection, the court shall reinstate the complaint to the active trial list and lift the suspension of time limits. Both parties may accept the decision of the panel issued.If both parties accept the decision, both parties shall move to dismiss the complaint filed in court within 30 days of receiving the decision.The panel's decision is admissible as evidence in a subsequent trial.An individual who serves as a member of a panel under this section shall have the immunity from suit.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 


HB1193Health Care Malpractice - Medical Experts - Maintaining or Defending Claim or Action in Bad Faith or Without Substantial Justification

This bill amends �3-2A-04 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.It provides that a claim or action shall be dismissed if a certificate of a qualified expert is not filed with 90 days from the date of the complaint and that the expert's opinion is expressed to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is scientifically valid and has been tested for validity, has been objectively examined for error, and has been subject to peer review.It also provides that a claim or action filed may be adjudicated in favor of the claimant or plaintiff on the issue of liability, if the defendant disputes liability and fails to file, within 120 days from the date the claimant or plaintiff served the certificate of a qualified expert on the defendant, a certificate of a qualified expert attesting to compliance with standards of care, or that the departure from standards of care is not the proximate cause of the alleged injury and that the expert's opinion is expressed to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is scientifically valid and has been tested for validity, has been objectively examined for error, and has been subject to peer review.

 

If a panel chairman or court finds that the conduct of a party in maintaining or defending a proceeding was in bad faith or without substantial justification, the panel chairman or court shall order the offending party or the attorney advising the conduct or both to pay to the adverse party the costs of the proceeding and the reasonable expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees, incurred by the adverse party in opposing it.If a court, in a claim or action subject, determines that scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue, a witness determined by the court to be qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify concerning the evidence or fact in issue in the form of an opinion or otherwise only if the following criteria are met: the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data; the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case; and if the expert's testimony is in the form of an opinion, the opinion is expressed to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is scientifically valid and has been tested for validity, has been objectively examined for error, and has been subject to peer review.

 

The court, on its own motion or a motion by a party, may hear evidence, including testimony from the proposed expert witness.If the court decides to hear evidence, the court shall hear the evidence out of the presence of a jury before deciding whether the testimony is admissible or inadmissible.The bill adds testifying as or offering an opinion as a medical expert witness in the course of a legal proceeding to the definition of “practice medicine.”A physician licensed by and residing in another jurisdiction, while testifying in a civil action or attesting to compliance with or departure from standards of care for purposes of a certificate of a qualified expert is subject to the rules, regulations, and orders of the Board of Physicians.

 

Subject to the hearing provisions of this subtitle and appropriate peer review, the Board, on the affirmative vote of a majority of the quorum, may issue findings and a report concerning an individual who falsely testifies or falsely offers an opinion as a medical expert regarding medical diagnosis, healing, treatment, or surgery.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 


HB1200Civil Proceedings and Medical Injury Claims - Venue, Witnesses, and Evidence

This bill adds to �6-201 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article stating that the venue of a claim, suit, or action filed must be in the county where the cause of action arose.The bill adds to �9-124 that in a civil action, if a court determines that scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue, a witness determined by the court to be qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify concerning the evidence or fact in issue in the form of an opinion or otherwise only if the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

 

If a court considers it necessary or on motion by a party, the court may, as a preliminary matter and out of the presence of a jury, hear evidence, including testimony from the proposed expert witness.The bill protects an apology made by or on behalf of a health care provider and deletes an admission of liability or fault as admissible as evidence.The bill adds testifying as or offering an opinion as a medical expert witness in the course of a legal proceeding to the definition of the “practice medicine.”A physician licensed by and residing in another jurisdiction, while testifying in a civil action or attesting to compliance with or departures from standards of care for purposes of a certificate of qualified expert, is subject to the rules, regulations, and orders of the Board of Physicians.

 

Subject to the hearing provisions of this subtitle and appropriate peer review, the Board, on the affirmative vote of a majority of the quorum, may issue findings and a report concerning an individual who falsely testifies or falsely offers an opinion as a medical expert witness regarding medical diagnosis, healing, treatment, or surgery.

 

 

HB1200Civil Proceedings and Medical Injury Claims - Venue, Witnesses, and Evidence

This bill adds to �6-201 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article stating that the venue of a claim, suit, or action filed must be in the county where the cause of action arose.The bill adds to �9-124 that in a civil action, if a court determines that scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue, a witness determined by the court to be qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify concerning the evidence or fact in issue in the form of an opinion or otherwise only if the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

 

If a court considers it necessary or on motion by a party, the court may, as a preliminary matter and out of the presence of a jury, hear evidence, including testimony from the proposed expert witness.The bill protects an apology made by or on behalf of a health care provider and deletes an admission of liability or fault as admissible as evidence.The bill adds testifying as or offering an opinion as a medical expert witness in the course of a legal proceeding to the definition of the “practice medicine.”A physician licensed by and residing in another jurisdiction, while testifying in a civil action or attesting to compliance with or departures from standards of care for purposes of a certificate of qualified expert, is subject to the rules, regulations, and orders of the Board of Physicians.

 

Subject to the hearing provisions of this subtitle and appropriate peer review, the Board, on the affirmative vote of a majority of the quorum, may issue findings and a report concerning an individual who falsely testifies or falsely offers an opinion as a medical expert witness regarding medical diagnosis, healing, treatment, or surgery.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 

 

HB1212Courts - Medical Injury Claims - Damages

This bill amends �3-2A-06 of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article.It states that on a motion by a party, damages for past medical expenses in a verdict shall be reduced on the ground that the claimant will be paid, reimbursed, or indemnified under statute, insurance, or contract for all or part of the damages assessed.The court shall hold a hearing and receive evidence on the motion.If the court finds from the evidence that the damages for past medical expenses have been or will be paid, reimbursed, or indemnified the court shall modify the damages for the past medical expenses in the verdict.The verdict for past or future loss of earnings shall exclude any amount for federal, state, or local income taxes or payroll taxes, including Social Security and Medicare, that the plaintiff would have paid on these earnings, determined at the tax rates in effect for the plaintiff at the time the verdict is entered. There is a rebuttable presumption that the Medicare reimbursement rates in effect on the date of the verdict for the locality in which the care is to be provided, adjusted for inflation, are fair and reasonable amounts for future medical expenses.

 

If on the date of the verdict, the Medicare waiver under � 1814(b) of the Federal Social Security Act is in effect, there is a rebuttable presumption that the rates approved by the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) in effect on the date of the verdict for the hospital facility in which services are to be provided, adjusted for inflation as provided in the annual rate updates approved by the HSCRC, are fair and reasonable amounts for future medical expenses. There is a rebuttable presumption that the statewide average payment rate for the Medical Assistance Program determined by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in effect on the date of the verdict, adjusted for inflation, and is a fair and reasonable amount for future medical expenses for nursing home facilities.

 

A verdict for future medical expenses for which there is no Medicare reimbursement rate, hospital facility rate, or statewide average payment rate shall be based on actual cost on the date of the verdict, adjusted for inflation.Future medical expenses shall be adjusted for inflation for the expenditure category of the Consumer Price Index published by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics to which the expense applies. The adjustment for inflation shall be based on the average rate of inflation for the 5 years immediately preceding the award or verdict.

 

A defendant shall pay an award or verdict for noneconomic damages and future economic damages of $250,000 or less as a lump sum with payments for past economic damages.For an award or verdict for noneconomic damages and future economic damages of more than $250,000, the arbitration panel or court shall:

 

  1. Order the defendant to pay $100,000 of the future economic damages and noneconomic damages as a lump sum with past economic damages,
  2. Order the defendant to pay future economic damages and noneconomic damages of more than $100,000 periodically to the claimant or plaintiff in the form of an annuity, and
  3. Enter as the amount of the award or verdict for future economic damages and noneconomic damages of more than $100,000, the purchase price of an annuity purchased by the defendant or the defendant's insurer.

 

To fully fund future economic damages and noneconomic damages in excess of $250,000, the defendant or the defendant's insurer shall purchase an annuity for the amount of the future economic damages and noneconomic damages less the $100,000 paid, which produces periodic payments for:

 

  1. Future medical expenses and noneconomic damages, divided by the lesser of the number of years for which the claimant or plaintiff will need medical treatment or the life expectancy of the claimant or plaintiff, and
  2. Future loss of earnings, divided by the lesser of the number of years for which the claimant or plaintiff will suffer a loss of earnings or the working life of the claimant or plaintiff.The periodic payments for future loss of earnings may not commence until the commencement date of the working life of the claimant or plaintiff.The life expectancy of the claimant or plaintiff, the working life of the claimant or plaintiff, the commencement date of the working life of the claimant or plaintiff, or the duration of the medical expenses and lost wages shall be those asserted by the claimant or plaintiff to the arbitration panel or at trial in support of the claim for future economic damages. In an action subject to this subtitle, the defendant may introduce evidence of the life expectancy of the claimant or plaintiff, the working life of the claimant or plaintiff, and the commencement of the working life of the claimant or plaintiff, or the duration of the medical expenses and lost wages.

 

For a survival or wrongful death action, noneconomic damages shall be paid at the same time as past economic damages and apply only to future economic damages exceeding $250,000.The defendant or the defendant's insurer may purchase multiple annuities if, in the aggregate, the annuities fully fund the portion of the award or verdict for future economic damages and noneconomic damages in excess of $100,000.

 

An annuity purchased shall have a guaranteed term equal to the lesser of the life expectancy of the claimant or plaintiff as asserted by the claimant or plaintiff to the arbitration panel or at trial in support of the claim for future economic damages or for future medical expenses, the number of years for which the claimant or plaintiff will need medical treatment and for future loss of earnings, and the number of years for which the claimant or plaintiff will suffer a loss of earnings.

 

The defendant's insurer shall be obligated to purchase an annuity under this section only to the extent of the coverage the insurer is obligated to provide under the insurance policy issued to the defendant.The defendant or the defendant's insurer shall purchase an annuity from an insurer that has one of the following ratings from two of the following rating organizations:

 

  1. A.M. Best Company: A++ or A+
  2. Fitch Inc.: AAA, AA+, AA, or AA-
  3. Moody's Investors Service Claims Paying Rating: AAA, AA1, AA2, or AA3
  4. Standard & Poor's Corporation Insurer Claims Paying Rating: AAA, AA+, AA, or AA-
  5. If agreed to by the claimant or plaintiff, a rating from another national rating organization if the rating and the rating organization are found to be appropriate by the court.

 

The arbitration panel or court shall approve an annuity purchased by the defendant or the defendant's insurer if the annuity meets the requirements of this subsection and will at all times be fully secured by assets held in a validly established separate account that may not be chargeable with liabilities arising out of any other business that the insurer may conduct or in which the claimant or plaintiff has a perfected security interest.

 

The purchase of an annuity by the defendant or the defendant's insurer in accordance with the terms of this section shall be deemed to have fully satisfied the portion of the award or verdict for future economic damages and noneconomic damages in excess of $100,000.The provisions of this article do not apply to an award or verdict for damages under this subtitle in which the cause of action arises on or after June 1, 2005.

 

The bill also provides that an individual is not civilly liable for any act or omission in providing assistance or medical aid to a victim in a medical facility, if the victim initially visited the emergency department of a medical facility requesting examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition, the individual is a health care provider, the act or omission is not one of gross negligence, the timing and type of diagnosis and treatment are not affected by financial considerations, and the individual is acting in full compliance with the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment And Active Labor Act (EMTALA), and the regulations adopted under that Act.

 

The bill also establishes a Task Force on Administrative Compensation for Patient Injury Claims composed of the following members:

  1. one member of the Senate, appointed by the President of the Senate;
  2. one member of the House of Delegates, appointed by the Speaker of the House;
  3. the Attorney General, or the Attorney General's designee;
  4. a circuit court judge, appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals;
  5. the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or the Secretary's designee;
  6. the Chairman of the State Board of Physicians, or the Chairman's designee;
  7. the State Insurance Commissioner, or the Commissioner's designee;
  8. the Chairman of the State Workers' Compensation Commission, or the Chairman's designee; and the following members appointed by the Governor, in consultation with the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House:

 

1.      one representative of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland;

2.      one representative of the Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland;

3.      one representative of the Maryland Hospital Association;

4.      one representative of the Maryland State Bar Association;

5.      one representative of the Maryland Defense Council, Inc.;

6.      one representative of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association; and

7.      one representative of the health insurance industry.

 

The Task Force shall study the feasibility of developing a statewide administrative compensation system, based on a workers' compensation model that would compensate medically injured patients administratively instead of through the courts by creating a quasi-governmental entity that would be the sole remedy for injured patients.The Task Force shall gather and analyze data on the cost of compensating medical injuries through the existing tort system and compare the cost of an administrative compensation system with that of the existing tort system and investigate the financial, policy, and legal issues critical to the design of an administrative compensation system.It shall also study other medical administrative compensation systems such as in Sweden, New Zealand, and the states of Virginia and Florida, and other medical administrative compensation pilot programs as proposed in Utah, Colorado, and Massachusetts; and study the feasibility of developing a pilot program, based on a workers' compensation model, that would be conducted in a selected community-based hospital and a hospital affiliated with an academic institution, with a second community-based hospital and second hospital affiliated with an academic institution serving as the control group.The pilot would be limited to a high-risk medical specialty such as the practice of obstetrics, would use an administrative tribunal to hear medical injury claims instead of a jury, with the tribunal's decision being the exclusive remedy for the claim, and with the claimant having a limited right of appeal of the tribunal's decision to an administrative law judge, and would compensate injured patients according to a schedule of damages for specific injuries.The Task Force shall report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly, on or before June 30, 2007.The Task Force in effect for 2 years.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 


HB1215Courts - Medical Injury Recoveries - Attorney's Fees

This bill adds a new �3-2A-07A to the Court and Judicial Proceedings Article.In this section, “recovered” means the net sum recovered by the claimant after deducting any disbursements or costs incurred in connection with prosecution or settlement of the claim.The attorney's office-overhead costs or charges are not deductible disbursements or costs. An attorney may not contract for or collect a contingency fee for representing a person having a claim against a health care provider for damages due to a medical injury occurring on or after June 1, 2005, in excess of the following limits:

 

  1. 40% of the first $100,000 recovered,
  2. 33 1/3% of the next $100,000 recovered,
  3. 25% of the next $100,000 recovered, and
  4. 15% of any amount recovered in excess of $300,000.

 

The limitations apply regardless of whether the amount recovered is by settlement, award, or verdict or the person for whom the amount is recovered is a responsible adult, a minor, or a person who is mentally incompetent. A division of fees between an attorney who contracts for or collects a contingency fee and a referring attorney may be made only if the attorneys are in the same firm or the division is in proportion to the services performed by each attorney, the claimant is advised in writing of and does not object to the participation of the referring attorney, the total undivided fee is within the limits established by this section, and the claimant's attorney files with the director as a public record within 90 days from the date of the complaint, all written communications or agreements relating to the division of fees, including all written communications or agreements between the attorneys or with the claimant and before the fee is divided, written certification describing in detail the services performed by each attorney, the amount of time expended on the claim by each attorney, and the fee to be paid to each attorney.An attorney who violates this section is subject to disbarment, suspension, or other disciplinary action.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 


HB1230Courts - Health Care Injuries - Standard of Proof for Liability for Emergency Care

Unless the factual findings of an act or omission are supported by clear and convincing evidence, an individual is not civilly liable for any act or omission in providing assistance or medical aid to a victim in a medical facility, if the victim initially visited the medical facility requesting examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition, the individual is a health care provider, the treatment is given to the patient before the patient's condition is stabilized, the timing and type of diagnosis and treatment are not affected by financial considerations, and the individual is acting in full compliance with the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment And Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and the regulations adopted under that Act.

 

Effective Date:June 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 

[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 

Miscellaneous


HB1001Emergency Medical Services Board - Commercial Air Ambulance Service

This bill adds � 13-515.1 to the Education Article – University of Maryland – Emergency Medical Services (EMS).The EMS Board shall adopt regulations that provide for the reimbursement of a patient transport by a licensed commercial air ambulance service.

 

The regulations shall specify that when aeromedical transport is the indicated method for transporting an individual, a licensed commercial air ambulance service may collect an amount less than or equal to the amount the individual's insurance carrier has agreed to reimburse for aeromedical transport; the individual transported may submit an insurance claim for an amount less than or equal to the amount the individual's insurance carrier has agreed to reimburse for aeromedical transport; and a licensed commercial air ambulance service may not discriminate against the individual based on the individual's insurance or the amount the individual's insurance company has agreed to reimburse for aeromedical transport.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 


HB1085Uninsured Employers' Fund - Liability of Corporate Officers and Limited Liability Company Members

This bill adds to ��9-1003, 9-1005, and 9-1007 of the Labor and Employment Article that states notwithstanding any other provision of law, if an uninsured employer is a corporation and the assets of which are not sufficient to satisfy an award, any officer of the corporation who has responsibility for the general management of the corporation is jointly and severally liable for payment of the award.

 

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if an uninsured employer is a limited liability company and the assets of which are not sufficient to satisfy an award, any member of the company who has responsibility for the general management of the limited liability company is jointly and severally liable for payment of the award.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 


HB1163Labor and Employment - Subsequent Injury Fund - Renaming

This bill renames the Subsequent Injury Fund to the Prior Injury Fund throughout Title 9 of the Labor and Employment Article.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel

 


HB1289Workers' Compensation - Evaluation of Permanent Impairments - Social Workers

This bill amends � 9-721 of the Labor and Employment Article.This subsection applies only to a licensed certified social worker-clinical.For a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, a licensed certified social worker-clinical, within the specialized knowledge and scope of practice of a social worker-clinical, may evaluate a permanent impairment and report the evaluation to the Commission in accordance with the regulations of the Commission.

 

Effective Date:October 1, 2005

 

For more information, please contact:Heather Barthel



[Go to Bills Introduced]

 

 


STAFF CONTACT INFORMATION
Please contact Government Relations if you have concerns or would like additional information. Your input assists us greatly in evaluating and formulating the position of Johns Hopkins on all legislation.

Legislative Session Office
47 State Circle, Suite 203
Annapolis, MD 21401

410-269-0057
fax 410-269-1574


Heather Barthel������������������� [email protected]

Mickey Geisler��������������������� [email protected]

Matt Greenwood������������������ [email protected]

Sheila Higdon��������������������� [email protected]

Jim Kaufman����������������������� [email protected]

John Safapour�������������������� [email protected]
Bret Schreiber��������������������� [email protected]

Cathy Ximenez������������������� [email protected]

 

[ Go to Top]


ACRONYMS


Legislative Hotline is a service of Johns Hopkins Government Affairs.

� 2005 The Johns Hopkins Institutions. Baltimore, Maryland.
Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs.


Legislative Hotline is a service of Johns Hopkins Government Affairs.

� 2005 The Johns Hopkins Institutions. Baltimore, Maryland.
Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs.