The 2023 General Assembly adjourned “sine die” on Saturday, February 25th, but with work to continue on finalizing the second year of the biennial budget bill. The reconvened session is scheduled for Weds, April 12th, for the legislators to weigh in on any of the Governor’s actions on the many bills that they have forwarded to him for his consideration. For the political wonks reading this, if you click on this link, you can see the session statistics. The short version is that the General Assembly sent 819 bills on to the Governor, not including Senate and House resolutions that do not require a gubernatorial signature. I hope the Governor has enough ink to cover his signatures and actions!
Regarding the budget bill, we know that the budget conferees will continue to meet until they have agreed upon a budget compromise. The House and the Senate versions of the budget were quite dissimilar, with the House approving a large tax cut and the Senate approving increased expenditures particularly in the areas of health care and public education. The fiscal year ends June 30, and localities are depending upon final figures from the state in order to finalize their 2023-24 FY budgets. So, we hope that the budget will be finished sooner rather than later!
We flagged several bills of importance to the bleeding disorders community. First, we had been hopeful that we would see further sales tax exemptions passed for food and personal hygiene products. Delegates McNamara and Turant had filed HB 1484, Delegates Greenhalgh and Head, HB 1686, and Senator Sutterlein, SB 850. All of these bills failed to advance.
We also monitored several health insurance bills that probably do little to lower the cost of health insurance but will not increase the cost by their passage. Specifically, HB 1471 (Fowler) and SB 1261 (Dunnavant) aim to streamline the process of obtaining prior authorization through electronic means. Some members of our community have had to deal with this issue, and we hope that these bills will facilitate the process.
Del. Kilgore and Sen. Barker sponsored HB 1640 and SB 1409 to require insurers who issue Medicare supplemental plans to offer such plans to individuals under the age of 65 who are also enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B or who are eligible for Medicare based on disability. The plans must become available January 1, 2024.
And finally and perhaps most potentially significant for our community are HB 2199 (Byron) and SB 1397 (Surovell). These bills require that the Health Insurance Reform Commission establish a process for the Bureau of Insurance to review the current essential health benefits benchmark plan in 2025 (and every five years thereafter). We will need to be vigilant as the Commission completes its work in 2024 in preparation for the revision of the essential health benefits benchmark plan for 2025 with regard to treatment of people with inherited bleeding disorders. We expect that the Commission will begin its work after July 1st.
If you have any specific questions about these or any other bills, please do not hesitate to contact Becky Bowers-Lanier at email@example.com and many thanks for your advocacy on behalf of our community!