This is where we've left state health care legislation at the end of 2016

State lawmakers made some of their last actions and statements of the year this week on health policies and legislation in New Jersey.

Some bills were introduced and others signed into law while the rest, on issues of health insurance, addiction, cancer, veterans health care and mental health, continue to make their way through the state Assembly and Senate.

Actions on those bills will pick up again in the New Year, but for now, this is where these health care initiatives stand at the end of 2016.

New Jersey health insurance and consumer needs:Assemblyman Gary Schaer, D-Bergen, Passaic, introduced a bill this week that would help ensure New Jersey’s health insurance networks are meeting the changing needs of health care. The bill would establish the New Jersey Commission on Health Insurance Network Adequacy to review the appropriateness and effectiveness of the state’s network adequacy regulations.

Signed into law

Pharmaceutical industry: Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, Warren, Morris, to make the registration process easier for pharmaceutical companies was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie. The legislation clarifies that approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not required when a drug manufacturer is filing a registration statement.


Health insurers and health benefits forms: Assembly members Joseph Egan, D-Middlesex, Somerset, Daniel Benson, D-Mercer, Middlesex, and Shavonda Sumter, D-Bergen, Passaic, sponsored a bill that would create a standard written explanation-of-benefits form to be used by all health insurance providers in New Jersey. The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee advanced it Monday. The bill aims to make it easier for insured people to understand their benefits and what services are covered under them.

Incentives for hospital care improvement: An Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee panel Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblymen John Burzichelli, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, and Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, allowing hospitals to provide physicians with performance-based incentive payments to increase quality of care and reduce costs.

Teens and opioid addiction: A bill would require health care professionals with prescribing authority to discuss the addiction potential of any opioid drug that is a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance prior to issuing a prescription for the medication to a patient who is younger than 18. The legislation, sponsored by Assembly members Joseph Lagana, D-Bergen, Passaic, Nancy Pinkin, D-Middlesex, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, Marlene Caride, D-Bergen, Passaic, Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, and Benjie Wimberly, D-Bergen, Passaic, was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Monday.

Childhood cancer awareness: A bipartisan resolution sponsored by state Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, Warren, Morris, to promote education and awareness about childhood cancer is one step closer to final passage after it was advanced by the Assembly Health Committee. The bill designates the third week in September as “Go Gold for Kids with Cancer Awareness Week.”

Veterans and mental illness: Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, and Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, to provide greater support for veterans struggling with addiction or mental illness was advanced by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The purpose of the bill is to increase access to screening, counseling, treatment and case management for mental health issues, substance abuse and co-occurring health disorders.

Veteran health care and transportation: Two bills sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, aimed at addressing obstacles to health care faced by veterans were approved Monday by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bills would provide funding to ensure transportation for veterans traveling to VA hospitals and would prevent residents of state-operated veterans’ nursing homes from having to pay for transportation to doctor appointments outside of the facility.

Law enforcement and mental health training: Legislation Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, sponsored to help keep law enforcement officers, individuals experiencing mental health crises and the general public safe during police interventions was advanced Monday by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The bill would require training for law enforcement officers to include guidance on interacting with individuals who may have behavior health issues.

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