Maine passes two laws to improve healthcare transparency

Gov. John E. Baldacci (D) of Maine has signed two laws aimed at improving transparency in the health insurance marketplace and providing the public with more quality and cost information. The laws will go into effect on Sept. 12.

According to the Governor's news release, Maine's law gives the State’s insurance superintendent more authority to oversee rate increases and allow consumers to more easily compare health insurance plans. The new law will also require insurance companies to provide clear, understandable explanations of the benefits when a claim is filed so that consumers have a better understanding of what is covered under their policy.

A separate law requires the Advisory Council on Payment Reform and the Maine Health Data Organization to promote public transparency of the quality and cost of health care by publishing financial and quality information about health care services in a formal that is easily accessible for consumers.  The bill directs the Advisory Council to develop proposed reforms for payment reform in this State, including provider incentives for cost-effective and patient- centered health care, and deliver these recommendations to the Legislature by January 2010.

(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, August 27, 2009; Governor John Baldacci website, http://maine.gov, accessed September 15, 2009)