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NO. 129. AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE OF MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES.

(H.628)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 8 V.S.A. § 4089b(f) and (g) are added to read:

(f) On or before March 1 of each year, the five largest health insurance companies doing business in Vermont as measured by covered lives shall file with the commissioner, in accordance with standards, procedures, and forms approved by the commissioner:

(1) A report card on the health insurance plan’s performance in relation to quality measures for the care, treatment, and treatment options of mental health and substance abuse conditions covered under the plan, pursuant to standards and procedures adopted by the commissioner by rule, and without duplicating any reporting required of such companies pursuant to Rule 10 of the division of health care administration, “Quality Assurance Standards and Consumer Protections for Managed Care Plans”, as amended, including:

(A) the discharge rates from inpatient mental health and substance abuse care and treatment of insureds;

(B) the average length of stay and number of treatment sessions for insureds receiving inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance abuse care and treatment;

(C) the percentage of insureds receiving inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance abuse care and treatment;

(D) the number of insureds denied mental health and substance abuse care and treatment, including the total number of denials per insured’s lifetime;

(E) the number of denials appealed by patients reported separately from the number of denials appealed by providers;

(F) the rates of readmission to inpatient mental health and substance abuse care and treatment for insureds with a mental health condition;

(G) the level of patient satisfaction with the quality of the mental health and substance abuse care and treatment provided to insureds under the health insurance plan; and

(H) any other quality measure established by the commissioner.

(2) The health insurance plan’s revenue loss and expense ratio relating to the care and treatment of mental health conditions covered under the health insurance plan. The expense ratio report shall list amounts paid in claims for services and administrative costs separately.

(g) The commissioner shall establish a task force to develop performance quality measures and address oversight issues for managed behavioral health care organizations. The task force shall report to the committees on health and welfare of the senate and the house of representatives on or before December 1 of each year with a report on the activities and recommendations of the task force. The task force shall include the following:

(1) the commissioner of developmental and mental health services or a designee;

(2) the director of the office of Vermont health access or a designee;

(3) the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration or a designee;

(4) fourteen additional members appointed by the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, including:

(A) four representatives of the health insurance and behavioral managed care organization industry;

(B) two consumers, after consultation with the health care ombudsman;

(C) one psychologist, after consultation with the Vermont psychological association;

(D) one psychiatrist, after consultation with the Vermont psychiatric association;

(E) one social worker, after consultation with the National Association of Social Workers, Vermont Chapter;

(F) one mental health counselor, after consultation with the Vermont mental health counselors association;

(G) one drug and alcohol counselor, after consultation with the Vermont association of drug and alcohol counselors;

(H) one representative from a consumer or citizen’s organization;

(I) one representative from the business community; and

(J) one representative of community mental health centers.

Sec. 2. 18 V.S.A. § 9419 is added to read:

§ 9419. CHARGES FOR ACCESS TO MEDICAL RECORDS

(a) A custodian may impose a charge that is no more than a flat $5.00 fee or no more than $0.50 per page, whichever is greater, for providing copies of an individual’s health care record. A custodian shall provide an individual or the authorized recipient with an itemized bill for the charges assessed. A custodian shall not charge for providing copies of any health care record requested to support a claim or an appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or for any other federal or state needs-based benefit or program.

(b) A custodian may charge an individual a fee, reasonably related to the associated costs, for providing copies of x-rays, films, models, disks, tapes, or other health care record information maintained in other formats.

(c) As used in this section:

(1) “Custodian” means any person who maintains health care information for any lawful purpose, including a health care provider, a health care facility, or a health insurer.

(2) “Health care record” means all written and recorded health care information about an individual maintained by a custodian.

(3) “Individual” means a natural person, alive or dead, who is the subject of health care information and includes, when appropriate, the individual’s attorney-in-fact, legal guardian, health care agent, as defined in 14 V.S.A. chapter 121, executor or administrator.

Sec. 3. STUDY OF HEALTH INSURANCE ACCOUNTABILITY

The commissioner of banking, insurance, securities and health care administration shall report to the General Assembly on or before December 1, 2000 with a comprehensive survey of and recommendations concerning the options for legislative, administrative and other nonjudicial mechanisms to enhance the accountability of health insurance plans for decisions on coverage of medically necessary care to beneficiaries. The report’s survey of and recommendations concerning accountability mechanisms shall include the patient protection measures agreed to by Aetna U.S. Health Care in its April 2000 Consent Decree with the State of Texas which are not provided for under Vermont laws and regulations. In preparing her report the commissioner shall consult with Vermont’s health insurers, the Vermont Medical Society, the Vermont Trial Lawyers’ Association, and the Vermont Health Care Ombudsman.

Sec. 4. REPORT OF MEDICAID EXPENDITURES

On or before January 15, 2001, 2002, and 2003, the agency of human services shall report the Medicaid program expenditures for behavioral health services, by major category for the most recently completed fiscal year, to the committees on health and welfare of the senate and house of representatives.

Sec. 5. SUNSET OF LOSS AND EXPENSE RATIO FILING

REQUIREMENT

8 V.S.A. § 4089b(f)(2) (health insurance plan revenue loss and expense ratios relating to mental health conditions) is repealed on July 1, 2003.

Approved: May 17, 2000