Maine Legislature approves COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights
AUGUSTA – Today, the Maine Legislature approved a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford to establish a COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights. The vote was 139-1 in the House and unanimous in the Senate.
LD 1, “An Act to Establish the COVID-19 Patients Bill of Rights” would eliminate barriers to COVID-19 screening, testing and immunization as well as other health services so Mainers can keep their families and loved ones safe and healthy during this crisis.
“Now that the federal government has approved a third COVID-19 vaccine and increased the number of doses coming into the state daily, we need to ensure nothing stands in the way of Mainers getting their shot,” said President Jackson. “LD 1 will do just that by improving access to screening, testing, and vaccinations. The COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights is key to getting us through this crisis and a post-COVID world.”
“The COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights is about making sure nothing prevents Mainers from getting the health care they need to protect themselves, their families and loved ones from this serious virus,” said Speaker Fecteau. “This week, we celebrate Maine vaccine clinics for providing a record number of doses. Our state is now among the nation’s most efficient at delivering inoculations. This bill makes sure cost is not a barrier to any Mainer in our fight against COVID-19.”
The proposal would require state-regulated health insurance companies to cover COVID-19 screening, testing and immunization at no cost to the patient. It also prevents health care providers from charging patients any sort of fee-related to these types of services.
Although uninsured Mainers should be able to access testing and vaccination at no cost, the amended proposal includes language to ensure that if an uninsured Mainer is at a testing site that doesn’t have a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services:
· they are made aware of the cost ahead of time;
· they are made aware of alternative sites where they can get tested for free;
· and they are provided with the MaineCare waiver to get reimbursed for testing if they choose to get tested at a site without a DHHS contract.
The legislation was amended in committee to remove the telehealth provisions. Those items require additional work and will be taken up by the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services committee in a different bill later this session.
LD 1 will now go to the governor’s desk. Gov. Janet Mills has 10 days upon receiving legislation to sign a bill into law, allow it to become law without her signature, or veto it. The emergency measure would take effect immediately upon becoming law.