Legislation Goes Into Effect: Updates You Need to Know

Legislative Highlights from the 2019 Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly

AMS actively tracked and worked 237 of the 1670 bills filed in the 2019 legislative session. The following bills represent some of the more high-profile issues AMS successfully fought for, amended and/or monitored closely that we anticipate will have more of an impact on you, your patients and your practice:

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (HB 1861/Act 860): Requires establishments that have a permit to serve alcohol to post a sign warning of the dangers of pregnant women consuming alcohol.

Health Care Contracting (SB 480/Act 734) and Assignment of Benefits (SB 512/Act 736): These give physicians and other health care providers more leverage in contracting with insurance carriers. Act 734, among other things, prohibits so-called “all-products clauses.” Act 736 requires insurance carriers to recognize and accept assignment of benefits for services provided by out-of-network providers.

Identification Disclosure (SB 527/Act 706): Requires insurance companies to clearly indicate on their beneficiary’s ID cards whether a plan is “insured” or “self-funded.” This will make it easier for clinics to determine whether a patient’s insurance is governed by state or federal rules.

Fairness in Maintaining a Physician’s Network Membership (SB 592/Act 996): This amendment to the Patient Protection Act prohibits an insurance company from terminating a physician’s network membership over peer-review actions that do not involve standard of care or potential harm to patients. Essentially, this makes it clear to insurance carriers that if there’s a disciplinary action taken, that action must pertain to a patient-care issue.

Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) Prior Authorization Prohibition (HB 1656/Act 964): Prohibits prior authorizations for MAT for opioid abuse.

Osteopathic Licensure (HB 1658/Act 607): Addresses a provision in the Medical Licensure Act requiring osteopathic physicians to be citizens of the U.S. to obtain their Arkansas license. (The provision does not exist in licensing requirements for allopathic licensing.) This allows for osteopathic physicians that are legal residents of the U.S. to practice anywhere in Arkansas.

Academic Licensure (SB 456/Act 701): Changes/renames an educational license to “academic” license and allows physicians who have an academic license to apply for a regular license after two years.

Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Prohibition (SB 339/Act 804): Prohibits insurance companies and hospitals from using MOC as the sole criteria for credentialing. Certain exclusions for academic centers would allow MOC to be used if adopted by the medical staff of an organization.

Asthma Inhalers (HB 1745/Act 851): Allows for schools to have a supply of inhalers on hand, just as they would epinephrine injectors.

Biosimilar Substitution (HB 1269/Act 637): Jointly initiated by AMS and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, allows for and sets rules for pharmacists’ substitution of interchangeable biologic products. The bill is designed to create a framework for substitution once the FDA begins approving biosimilar drugs as interchangeable (none currently exist).

Alternative Payment System Clarity (HB 1900/Act 862): Requires insurance companies using alternative payment systems to provide “clearly expressed and identifiable benchmarks” at least 90 days prior to implementation.

Recoupment Correction (SB 642/Act 940): Allows physicians to submit a corrected claim up to six (6) months after recoupment for services that were provided but billed in error (without the intent to defraud).

Mandatory E-prescribing (SB 174/Act 447): AMS amended this bill to make it more physician-friendly. Beginning 1/1/21, Arkansas will require all scheduled drugs be prescribed using electronic prescribing software. This new law follows the Medicare requirement also taking effect 1/1/21. This eliminates prescription pads and will reduce instances of forging. Many states have already done this, and there are some waivers/exclusions provided.

Genetic Counselor Licensure (SB 190/Act 686): AMS was neutral on this bill but worked with the sponsor to amend this bill, which licenses genetic counselors to be regulated by the Arkansas State Medical Board. The AMS amendment, among other things, removed a provision which would have allowed genetic counselors to order genetic testing without physician involvement.