The Senate and House approved our COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights with bipartisan support. The bill now heads to the governor for her signature.
Now that the federal government has approved a third COVID-19 vaccine and increased the number of doses coming into the state daily, LD 1 will help Maine people access the vaccine by providing access to screening, testing, and vaccinations, no matter their income or health insurance status. The bill is the first COVID-19 policy-related piece of legislation passed in the Legislature this year. It requires health insurance providers to cover COVID-19 screening, testing and vaccine costs. It also does not allow an out-of-network provider to charge a patient the difference of what their insurance would cover.
Providers would be required to provide notice on any upfront charges. It also looks to expand the number of people able to give vaccines and includes a provision allowing for doctors to prescribe an extended amount of medications during a state of emergency.
Maine already covers testing charges at its “swab and send” sites and rapid tests through its partnership with Walgreens. Medicare and Medicaid providers are required to cover testing along with doctor’s visits during a federal state of emergency thanks to two federal laws passed nearly a year ago. Vaccines distributed by the federal government are currently given free of charge to Americans, but the new state law aims to ensure no future changes.