Gov. O’Malley Signs Two Bills That Set New Rules for No-Cost, Low-Cost Hospital Care, Financial Information
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) signed two bills on Thursday that institute new rules to determine eligibility for no-cost or reduced-price care at state hospitals and mandate that staff provide financial assistance information to all patients, the Baltimore Sun reports. The rules, which take effect June 1, replace voluntary guidelines developed by the Maryland Hospital Association, which decided eligibility for no-cost care.
The rules stipulate that Maryland hospitals must give no-cost care to all state residents with incomes less than 150% of the federal poverty level. Hospitals also must give care at reduced prices to low-income patients above that level. According to the legislation, the rate-setting commission at each hospital can set a higher income threshold for no-cost care after reviewing various factors, such as the patient profile and the hospital's financial standing.
The legislation also requires hospitals to create an information sheet to be given to patients or their families before discharge that displays how to apply for no-cost and reduced-price care. Hospitals also must post information regarding financial assistance throughout the facility and billing office.
In addition, the bills require the Health Services Cost Review Commission -- a seven-member panel appointed by the governor -- to establish a committee to make recommendations (Drew, Baltimore Sun, 5/8).