The Indiana General Assembly is back in session, wading its way through an enormous amount of legislation from road funding to firearms rights.
Of course, there’s a smattering of health care legislation that could add consumer protections for patients, expand insurance coverage to infertile couples and provide hospitals news rights for restraining difficult patients.
At least a dozen bills are winding through each house that would affect patients, insurers, health-care providers or public health officials.
In this issue, we’ll take a look at some bills originating in the House that we’re keeping any eye on. Next time, we’ll look at bills originating in the Senate.
So without further ado:
House Bill 1011 (Rep. Wes Culver): Tired of wondering what you might be charged for a doctor’s visit or a hospital stay? This bill would require health care providers, starting in 2018, to publish and provide patients in advance the charges for procedures, except for those offered in emergencies. The bill would have “indeterminate fiscal impact” on the state, according to a note from the Legislative Services Agency.
“To the extent that providing and discussing charges for procedures, products or services would prompt patients to look for lower cost alternatives, cost savings may occur for the state,” the note said.
About 34 states now require some price disclosure, although it varies widely. Indiana requires hospitals to prepare and submit fiscal reports and patient information reports. Four states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and Nevada) require providers to disclosure information to patients in advance. (Referred to Public Health Committee)
House Bill 1028 (Reps. Ronald Bacon and Robert Heaton): It’s no secret that insurers and providers have occasional scuffles, and this one seeks to un-scuffle an area between insurers and two specialist providers: dentists and optometrists. It would prohibit insurers and HMOs from requiring dentists and optometrists to accept certain payments unless the services are covered under the policy or contract.
It also would prohibit dentists and optometrists from charging for non-covered health care services an amount that exceeds “the usual and customary” charges for health services. According to the state’s fiscal analysts, the bill could increase revenue from penalties assessed against insurers for “unfair and deceptive acts,” as well as optometrists and dentists who charge patients a greater amount than usual and customary. (Referred to Insurance Committee.)
House Bill 1041 (Rep. Jeffrey Thompson): This bill tightens controls on crematories and funeral operations. It requires that a crematory that is registered after July 1, 2017, be supervised by a funeral director. It also requires that a person who operates a cremation chamber receive training and be certified as a crematory operator. Further, it provides for alkaline hydrolysis, or bio-cremation, as a means for dissolution for human remains. A bill allowing bio-cremation in Indiana passed a house committee last year, but failed to advance. (Referred to Public Health Committee.)
House Bill 1059: (Rep. Robin Shackleford): In vitro fertilization is a popular option for infertile couples, and this bill would require health insurers and HMOs that offer pregnancy coverage to offer coverage for in vitro, with religious exemptions. (Referred to Insurance Committee.)
House Bill 1068 (Rep. Ronald Bacon): This bill would require a hospital to ask a patient (or patient’s representative) as soon as possible after an admission whether the patient wants to be a human organ donor. It would also designate the choice on the patient’s medical record. (Referred to Public Health Committee.)
House Bill 1153 (Rep. Dan Leonard): This bill gives more power to health care providers to use mechanical restraints on certain patients. It provides that if a patient has had at least one injury as a result of dementia or related disorder, and the injury could have been prevented if the patient had been restrained, a provider “may use mechanical restraints” on the patient. There is a list of conditions that must be met, and the bill also requires development and review of any guidelines for use of restraints.