An insurance advisory panel on Thursday agreed to forward eight proposals it would like to see lawmakers tackle in the 2022 Legislative Session including a mandate for health insurance carriers and HMOs to provide customers with a copy of their medical records upon request.
Chaired by Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board also agreed the Legislature should alter current insurance laws and require the health insurance policies that are sold to small employers to include coverage for applied behavior analysis therapies for children with autism and Down’s syndrome.
The board is a statutorily created advisory panel and it annually submits recommendations to legislative leaders for consideration. But they are only recommendations and don’t carry the full weight of law unless the Legislature takes action.
Florida already requires some insurance policies to include coverage for applied behavior analysis for children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and Down syndrome so long as the children were diagnosed by age 8.
The current mandate applies to large-group health insurance plans, including the state group health insurance plan. But it does not apply to small-group health insurance policies. The recommendation is to apply the mandate to policies sold to employers with 50 or fewer employees.
Moreover, the panel also is recommending that children born with fetal alcohol syndrome be added to the list of those included in the law who are eligible for the applied behavioral analysis benefits.
The panel also forwarded a recommendation that lawmakers prohibit insurance carriers from amending or removing a covered prescription drug from their formularies for a policy year.
While the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board is dominated by insurance and business representatives, all of the legislative recommendations were pushed by board member Louisa McQueeney with the group Florida Voices for Health.
Though the insurance and managed care industries would lobby against the recommendations if lawmakers tried to act upon them, the insurance advisory board approved the recommendations without fanfare or debate. That could be because, historically, the recommendations don’t make it into law.
Headed into the 2022 Legislative Session, it’s not clear how much of a priority health insurance will be for lawmakers. Most of the insurance related discussions that have been taking place in the Capitol to date have focused on property insurance. However, a Senate government operations panel began to delve into the workings of the state group health insurance policy at its last committee meeting with Sen. Jeff Brandes hinting that changes could be looming.