Mid-Session Legislative Update - 4-13-18
The 2018 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature has been underway for a month now. The special session earlier this year adjourned with nothing of consequence accomplished after the divisions between several different factions in the House grew to the point that a majority couldn’t be mustered for anything, let alone the 2/3 majority needed for a revenue-raising measure. Another special session is expected to be called following the current regular session. After taking heat in the media for “wasting taxpayer dollars” in the first session, legislative leaders are pushing to wrap up the regular session early, so a second special session won’t cost additional money. The heightened pace in the current session combined with the lingering frustration from the first special session has created an unusually intense atmosphere at the capitol. But so far, this has not had an adverse impact on LDA’s issues… so far.
Here’s the situation for each of LDA’s key bills:
HB 1 (Henry) – This is the appropriations bill, and the vehicle by which the LSU School of Dentistry (LSUSD) and dental Medicaid are funded. The House Appropriations Committee has held up the bill waiting to see if the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) would certify the availability of additional revenue for the coming year, as widely expected. On April 12, the REC added $346 million to its projections for state revenue in fiscal 2018-19, which reduced the “fiscal cliff” from nearly $1 billion to about $648 million. Fiscal conservatives in the House seem to think more revenue will be identified if the REC meets again next month, and are leaning towards bridging the budget gap through cuts alone. Should that occur, it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which HB 1 leaves the Appropriations Committee without substantial cuts to higher education and health care. But such an approach is unlikely to receive much support in the Senate. Which likely means continued gridlock on the budget and an all but inevitable second special session this year…
HB 134 (Anders) – This is the LDA’s bill to require insurance companies to make it easy to discern on patient ID cards which plans are self-insured and which are fully insured. This is important since some state laws (e.g., dental freedom of choice law) don’t apply to self-funded plans. The bill passed the House with no opposition and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Insurance Committee.
HB 429 (Cromer) – This is the LDA’s bill that would prohibit a dental insurance company from denying a claim for a procedure for which the company had issued a prior authorization. There are a few common sense exceptions (e.g., fraud, the claim had already been paid by another insurer, etc.). A dental insurance company would also be prohibited from recouping a paid claim if the company had confirmed coverage/eligibility for the patient and later found the patient was not covered/eligible but SHOULD have known. The bill was passed favorably by the House Insurance Committee without a single dissenting vote, and should be debated on the House floor on Monday, April 16.
HB 780 (Magee) – This is the LDA’s bill to create an independent review process for dental Medicaid claims that have been denied. The process delineated by the bill is very similar to the one described in a bill passed last year that created an independent review process for non-dental Medicaid claims that are denied. Both processes would be “loser pays,” but the considerable expense of the non-dental review was deemed by the LDA to be a barrier to dentists utilizing that independent review process. Accordingly, the major difference between our dental review bill and last year’s bill is that independent reviews of dental Medicaid claims will be performed by dentists selected from a panel comprised of LSUSD faculty members. This should allow for a significantly lower price per review. The bill was passed favorably by the House Health and Welfare Committee without a single dissenting vote, and should be debated on the House floor the week of Monday, April 16.
SB 260 (Milkovich) – This bill would require that a licensee facing disciplinary action by the occupational or professional licensing board that had issued his/her license could opt to have the matter adjudicated by an administrative law judge rather than a panel comprised of members of the licensing board. (The licensee could also choose to have the panel adjudicate, as is current practice.) LDA had actually lobbied for such a provision in a bill filed last year by Senator Mills that failed to pass (due to other provisions in the bill). Senator Milkovich did not consult with the LDA prior to filing his bill this year, but LDA is supporting it since it is clearly consistent with our prior position. The bill was passed favorably by the Senate Commerce Committee without a single dissenting vote, and should be debated on the Senate floor the week of Monday, April 16.
April 11, 2018: HB 780, LDA’s bill to create a streamlined and standardized process for Dental Medicaid of one internal appeal and an independent review where the loser pays, passed through House Health & Welfare without a single opposing vote!
April 4, 2018: HB 429, LDA’s bill to prevent dental insurers from denying/recouping claims that were pre-authorized, passed the House Insurance Committee without a single opposing vote! The bill should be before the full House on Wednesday, April 11.
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