Maynard District Office
Representative Kate Hogan introduced a number of bills in the 190th legislative session, ranging in topic from enhancing support for seniors, to easing the burden of agriculture estate taxes, to ensuring access to safe, affordable healthcare.
Below is a list of Representative Hogan’s bills. As always, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments.
Safety & Security
An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare
Solution: This bill aims to protect patient privacy by allowing the person receiving care to choose how their EOB is received, including at an alternate address or through HIPAA-compliant electronic means. As a part of this legislation, insurance carriers will not identify or describe the sensitive healthcare services received in a common summary of payments form. The bill will ensure that patients are informed of their options to request confidential means of receiving EOBs and will require that the Division of Insurance and Department of Public Health educate providers and patients on these protections.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2960
An Act criminalizing sexual assault by fraud by a medical professional
Solution: This bill will update Massachusetts sexual assault laws in order to clearly outline the crime of medical professionals claiming sexual contact for a medical purpose. The legislation would add sections to the existing rape and indecent assault and battery statutes to criminalize behavior by medical professionals where there has been a fraudulent representation as to the necessity and propriety of conduct, which otherwise amounts to sexual assault, in the course of treatment/diagnosis. This bill would also add these crimes to the law on the statute of limitations for other sexual assaults.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2289
Tax & Revenue
An Act to establish estate tax valuation for farms
Issue: The Commonwealth has a number of laws and programs designed to offset high land costs in order to promote agricultural production, however, as currently written our estate tax laws often force farmland into development. Inherited farmland is taxed under the estate tax laws based on the “highest and best” use of that land – which is development, not agriculture. Because of this “highest and best” use assessment, many people inheriting farmland must sell portions of their land in order to pay the estate tax.
Solution: To encourage owners to keep their farmland in agriculture, this bill offers a person inheriting farmland options for how their estate is taxed. Upon property transfer, both the “agricultural” use value and the “highest and best” use value of the land would be determined. If a person inherits a farm, and they choose to have their land valued based on its current use – agriculture – for the purposes of estate taxation, the resulting estate tax bill would be lower. If the owner decides to sell their land, within 10 years, for purposes other than agriculture, he or she would then pay back taxes for the remaining period of the 10 years. Those back taxes would bridge the difference between the lower estate tax bill, based on the land’s “agricultural” value, paid at the time of inheritance, and the more expensive, “highest and best” use value, that was also determined but not paid. This change would offer individuals who have recently inherited farmland the flexibility to keep their land in agriculture without being burdened by an estate tax they cannot afford.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3323
An Act in aid of libraries
Issue: In Massachusetts, if a library or friends of library group wishes to raise funds by selling the books or other items owned by the library, those sales are taxed – a significant burden these small groups must face when trying to support one of their community’s greatest assets.
Solution: In order to encourage the expansion and promotion of our local libraries, this bill would make used-book sales and other fundraising sales by libraries and friends of library groups tax-exempt. This change will help remove one of the obstacles to growth our libraries face in the 21st century.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2603
Health & Human Services
An Act authorizing dental therapists to expand access to oral health
Issue: Currently there is a lack of dental care for children, seniors, and people with special needs. This is due to a shortage of dentists who practice in certain areas of Massachusetts; More than 530,000 people in Massachusetts live in areas with a shortage of dentists. Additionally, a high percentage of existing dentists in Massachusetts do not accept Medicaid. In 2015, 44% of children on MassHealth did not see a dentist during the entire year. As such, a person’s ability to find adequate dental care in Massachusetts is largely determined by age, race, income, health needs, insurance status and zip code.
Solution: This bill aims to reduce disparities in oral health by creating a new class of oral health providers, called dental therapists, who will work under the supervision of a dentist to provide preventative and routine care like filling cavities, placing temporary crowns, and simple tooth extractions - bringing oral healthcare directly to underserved people in schools, nursing homes, and other community settings.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2474
An Act granting equal access to original birth certificates to all persons born in Massachusetts
Issue: As written, Massachusetts General Laws allow only certain individuals who were adopted access to their original birth certificates. Adopted persons 18 years of age or older who were born in Massachusetts on or before July 17, 1974 or on or after January 1, 2008 may access their original birth certificates, but adopted persons born in between those dates cannot. Original birth certificates provide individuals with important information, such as who their parents are, and therefore open the door to accessing a complete family medical history.
Solution: This bill strikes out the specific dates of birth of those who may be given birth certificates which indicate the parent or parents listed on the certificate, granting equal access to original birth certificates to all persons born in Massachusetts.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H1163
An Act to protect MassHealth applicants facing undue hardship
Issue: Some MassHealth applicants may want to transfer their principal residence to a loved one prior to entering a long term care facility—but if not done correctly, this can become an asset transfer that would disqualify a senior from receiving MassHealth benefits. MassHealth regulations dictate that any transfer of assets to another individual, for less than fair market value, within a five year period of application will result in an applicant-specific period of ineligibility for benefits, based on the value of the transferred asset. If the resident is ineligible for MassHealth for a certain amount of time, has no other residence and no family or community support, and is unable to retrieve the transferred asset, the result could be devastating.
Current federal law requires states to issue financial hardship waivers to those who will face an undue burden due to their disqualifying asset transfer; however, the regulations are ambiguous and states are not given any guidelines to carry out this policy. Current regulations in Massachusetts are vague and do not establish clear criteria for granting a waiver. MassHealth has been reluctant to grant any undue hardship waivers for long term care, which can leave nursing home residents in a very dangerous situation where they cannot afford basic needs, or can put nursing facilities in a position of providing care to a resident who cannot pay.
Solution: This bill would require a change in how MassHealth handles hardship waivers for patients that are in nursing home care in order to eliminate the period of ineligibility for patients who have an undue financial hardship. The bill establishes criteria in the regulations for granting appeals from waiver denials and creates a rebuttable presumption - enabling an applicant to be automatically granted a waiver if he or she meets the criteria. If the senior meets the criteria, it is up to MassHealth to present convincing evidence to the contrary.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2988
An Act preserve special needs trusts for disabled seniors
Issue: Regulations recently proposed by Governor Baker’s administration seek to eliminate special needs pooled trusts for disabled seniors, which allow seniors to place money into a fund for medical needs not covered by their insurer. Under the proposed regulation, these trusts would be counted as an asset in determining eligibility for MassHealth, therefore penalizing disabled seniors who use them.
Without the ability to set aside funds in a pooled trust, low-income disabled seniors will be put at risk. Some will no longer be able to pay for assisted living; others will not be able to remain living in the community. Still others will suffer loss of dignity and independence during the final years of their lives.
Solution: This legislation would ensure that disabled individuals over the age of 65 are able to continue to use the exemption for pooled trusts for the purposes of determining MassHealth eligibility.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2074
An Act expanding access to telemedicine services
Issue: Telemedicine allows providers to render healthcare services remotely, such as over the internet or through interactive electronic media. The use of telemedicine provides an opportunity to achieve healthcare cost savings and efficiencies and may be critical in very time-sensitive medical situations where there is not ready access to needed specialists. This practice can be particularly useful in parts of the state where there is more limited access to healthcare professionals and specialists. Although many insurers have independently undertaken actions to cover telemedicine services, not all do – leaving many people in the Commonwealth unable to afford such services.
Solution: This bill seeks to ensure access to telemedicine by requiring the Group Insurance Commission, MassHealth, and commercial health insurers to provide coverage for healthcare services provided by telemedicine to the same extent that such services are covered when provided by in-person consultation or delivery. The bill would also require that healthcare services rendered by telemedicine be reimbursed at a rate equal to the rate for the same service provided through in-person consultation and that any applicable co-payment, co-insurance or deductible be no greater than that applying to an in-person visit.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2174
An Act relative to access to vital healthcare information
Aim: This bill specifies the information that must be included in a summary of payments form provided by an insurer to a consumer. It includes protections and opt-outs for individuals who would prefer not to receive these forms from their insurers. It also includes a requirement, where applicable (mainly in the case of self-insured employers), that the summary of payments form must specify any employer contribution toward the healthcare claim. The intent of this provision is to clarify to employees the role their employer plays in ensuring they receive vital healthcare services.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2175
An Act to review the quality and patient safety of dispensing certain cancer and chronic disease related drugs
Issue: Currently, there are a number of methods in which a patient may procure certain medications related to the treatment of cancer, outside of direct hospital procurement. In certain scenarios, patients may be required to purchase medications from a specialty pharmacy to be delivered to their home or picked up in person, which then need to be administered by the healthcare provider, a practice often referred to as ‘white-bagging/brown-bagging’. Due to chain-of-custody issues, this process may compromise the integrity of the medication and cause confusion for the patient.
Solution: This bill aims to allow the Health Policy Commission, along with the Department of Public Health and the Division of Insurance, to study the practice of white-bagging/brown-bagging. The Health Policy Commission, as an independent evaluator of healthcare issues, will provide an analytic review of these practices and submit a report of these findings. Should any further legislative action be needed to address issues related to white-bagging / brown-bagging, such recommendations will be included. This bill will allow for a deeper understanding of a complex issue related to patient safety and healthcare costs.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3242
An Act to improve access to family physicians
Issue: Massachusetts is currently experiencing a shortage of family physicians to provide basic primary care to our residents – with over 40% of the state having little or no convenient access to primary care. Expanding access to primary care services will require training additional healthcare workers in this field. Today, newly trained physicians from any of our four prestigious medical schools must vie for only 45 primary care residency spots available in Massachusetts – resulting in a large number of these newly trained physicians leaving the state for their primary care residency and practice.
Solution: This bill aims to increase the number of practicing family physicians in the Commonwealth by establishing a primary care residency grant program. This program will place new physicians at a community health center, integrating them within the community and therefore increasing the likelihood that they stay following completion of their residency. By increasing the number of these primary care providers, more residents will have access to primary care services, hopefully resulting in better health outcomes.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3241
An Act protecting the employment benefits of Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary members
Issue: As organizations comprised entirely of civilians, the Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary require their members to balance their work life with their commitment to the organization. In order to respond to emergencies, commanders must be able to put together crews for operations on short notice. For prolonged emergency operations, considerations like mandatory crew rest and other limiting factors must also planned for—limitations that could impact mission readiness.
As the law stands, there is no obligation for an employer to give time off to a Civil Air Patrol or Coast Guard Auxiliary member in order to respond to an emergency. This lack of protection means that members may have to choose between assisting during emergency operations and their day jobs.
Solution: This bill will protect Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary members by establishing clear guidelines for both employers and employees during times of emergency operations. Among other measures, the act will bar employers from discriminating against any employees who are Civil Air Patrol or Coast Guard Auxiliary members during the interview process and prevent the detraction of any sick or personal days or seniority or benefits accrued to members taking a leave to serve. By establishing these protections for Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary members, this bill acknowledges the importance of their work while increasing the pool of crew members who can respond to a disaster or other emergency on short notice.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2370
An Act relative to firefighter training
Issue: Many retired firefighters return to the Department of Fire Services as training instructors, using their knowledge and expertise to train new members. However, there is currently a limit to the number of hours that retirees can teach at the academy, which is 960 hours per year. This hour limit often creates an inconvenient scenario in which retirees who have reached their limit must find another instructor to finish teaching their classes—interrupting class continuance and sometimes leading to the hiring of out-of-state retired firefighters in order to complete the courses.
Solution: This bill will lift the cap on the number of hours that retired firefighters may be employed by the Department of Fire Services as a training instructor, enabling our retired firefighters to pass along the institutional knowledge and skills they have gained through their lifetimes of experience
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3289
The following two bills were filed in honor of the late Massachusetts State Trooper Thomas L. Clardy of Hudson, Massachusetts. On March 16, 2016 Trooper Clardy was killed in a motor vehicle accident while on duty serving the citizens of the Commonwealth. He is survived by his wife and 6 children. Trooper Clardy served his country as a Marine before becoming a Massachusetts State Trooper.
An Act designating a certain bridge as the Trooper Thomas L. Clardy Memorial Bridge
Aim: This bill will name a certain bridge that crosses the Massachusetts Turnpike that is adjacent to the Charlton Massachusetts Barracks the Trooper Thomas L. Clardy Memorial Bridge.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3797
An Act designating a certain road as Trooper Thomas L. Clardy Way
Aim: This bill will name the service road that provides access to the Charlton Barracks Trooper Thomas L. Clardy Way.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3798
An Act relative to aviation preservation restrictions
Issue: Under current statute, the land surrounding privately owned, publicly used airports is not secured from development. Any construction on this surrounding land could prevent these small airports from operating at optimum safety and efficiency.
Solution: For safety reasons and to aid privately owned, publicly used airports, this bill would establish a restriction on the land around privately owned, publicly used airports to avoid development that could interfere with the operations of the airport.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2735
An Act relative to aviation vegetation management plans
Aim: This bill will bring state airspace regulations in line with federal guidelines and establish a vegetation management program to ensure that MassDOT has the authority to keep runway approach surfaces clear of obstructions.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3426
An Act relative to public-use airport real estate taxes
Issue: The 11 privately owned, publicly used airports in Massachusetts do not enjoy the same real estate tax exemptions that the publicly owned, publicly used airports do. The real estate taxes owed by privately owned, publicly used airports place these small businesses at a financial disadvantage to larger, municipally- and MassDOT-owned airports.
Solution: In order to help level the playing field, this legislation will add to the list of properties exempt from real estate taxes in the Commonwealth land on privately owned, publicly used airports that is used specifically for aviation purposes – such as taking off, landing, and taxiing. This change will provide tax relief for privately owned, publicly used airports to encourage growth and extend those savings to consumers, such as recreational pilots.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3322
An Act making technical corrections to the aeronautics laws of the Commonwealth
Issue: Following the June 2009 streamlining of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, many agency titles and laws have not yet been updated to reflect the new agency structure and operations.
Solution: This bill will update the remaining out-of-date statutes.
More information here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2734
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