State's health care progress lauded at first bill signing

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ANNAPOLIS — Hours after the General Assembly's midnight adjournment on Monday, bleary-eyed lawmakers gathered for the first post-session bill signing that highlighted health care legislation.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and the legislature's presiding officers signed 170 bills, including the Maryland False Health Claims Act, which will enable the state to recoup about $20 million in fiscal 2011 from those who commit fraud in state health insurance plans.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who championed that proposal and several other health care initiatives, called them "very important bills that are going to go a long way towards driving down the cost of medical care and improving quality."

Other bills signed into law Tuesday would:

  • Count inmates as residents of their home jurisdictions, rather than the communities where they are imprisoned.
  • Waive the $23.4 million penalty assessed to the Montgomery County school system by the state school board for failing to comply with a mandatory education funding law.
  • Simplify the process by which nurse practitioners are allowed to practice independently from physicians.
  • Prohibit the manufacturing, distribution or sale of products that contain bisphenol-A, a chemical found in plastic baby bottles that is believed to be harmful to small children.
  • Require the state natural resources secretary to issue state permits for the "incidental taking" of the endangered puritan tiger beetle under certain conditions. The tiny insect, which contributes to shoreline erosion, has become a major problem in Calvert County by forcing the prohibition of work on collapsing cliffs, where a 12-year-old girl was killed by a landslide in 1996 and where a road that is now just 25 feet from the cliff's edge recently closed.
  • Place on the November 2010 ballot a once-every-20-years constitutional amendment that asks voters whether to hold a constitutional convention that would alter the state Constitution.