State Court Motion Clerk Pilot Program – Need help with that opinion, judge?

HB 1047 was introduced by Rep. Washburne as a resource for local judges to assist in the preparation of complex motions (think Motions to Dismiss, Motions for Summary Judgment, or other motions considered “complex” by the new statutory definition). Under the program, the Indiana Judicial Center may establish a circuit and superior court motion clerk pilot program. The pilot program would make motion clerks available to circuit and superior court judges to assist with the preparation of orders granting or denying complex motions. A party to an action filed in a county where the pilot program is available may petition a court, when filing a complex motion, to have a motion clerk from the pilot program assist the court in preparing a judicial opinion that explains the reasons for granting or denying the complex motion. Additionally, a judge may request research and drafting assistance from the pilot program to aid in the preparation of a judicial opinion that explains the reasons for granting or denying a complex motion.

Lawsuit Lending – Is it a loan, or isn’t it?

Civil proceeding advance payment transactions (CPAP), more commonly referred to as lawsuit lending, passed this year via HB 1127. This concept has been introduced the last several years to no avail. However, this year Rep. Lehman took a different approach, which resulted in an eventual, last minute, agreement. While the bill states that a CPAP transaction is not a “loan,” in practical terms a third party finance company “loans” money to a plaintiff in anticipation of a favorable settlement in a lawsuit. If the plaintiff does not prevail, there is no requirement to repay the amount given.

The new law, set to take effect on July 1, 2016, states that a CPAP provider may charge, and only charge:

  1. A fee not exceeding an annual rate of 36% of the funded amount.
  2. A servicing charge not exceeding an annual rate of 7% of the funded amount.
  3. A one-time document fee not exceeding:
    1. $250 for a CPAP transaction with a funded amount of less than $5,000.
    2. $500 for a CPAP transaction with a funded amount of at least $5,000.

Provisions in the Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC) concerning the regular schedule of payments and maximum loan term that otherwise apply to supervised loans do not apply to CPAP transactions. The bill also outlines other requirements and prohibited acts regarding contract disclosures and licensure for the CPAP provider and allows for the DFI to adopt rules or policies to implement provisions in the bill.

Medical Malpractice – Your fence is not high enough.

SB 28 was originally introduced as a bill regarding the proper height of nuisance fences. However, after the original medical malpractice bill introduced in the Senate failed to pass, a strip and insert was done, and this bill became the new medical malpractice bill in the second half of session. The bill does the following:

  1. Increases the amount of recoverable damages for injury or death to a patient from the current cap of $1.25 million to $1.65 million in 2017 and to $1.8 million in 2019.
  2. Increases the amount of health care provider liability limits from $250,000 to $400,000 in 2017 and to $500,000 in 2019.
  3. Specifies that claims from the Patient's Compensation Fund must be paid not later than 60 days after the issuance of a court-approved settlement or final non-appealable judgment (and defines a final non-appealable judgment).
  4. Provides that attorney fees may not exceed 32% of the total recovery.
  5. Increases amounts paid to health care provider members and the chairman of the medical review panel.
  6. Adds anesthesiologist assistants to the definition of health care providers for purposes of the law.

Health Information; Telemedicine – Did somebody call a doctor?

HB 1263 sets forth requirements that must be met before a physician, a physician assistant, an advanced practice nurse or an optometrist, with prescriptive authority, may issue a prescription to a patient receiving telemedicine services. The bill details certain drugs and devices that may not be prescribed through the use of telemedicine. It also specifies Indiana jurisdiction for out-of-state providers providing health care services to patients located in Indiana and requires these providers and entities to certify certain information with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.

Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0) – Too hip to be square.

SB 165 was a Gov. Pence agenda item to repeal the prior HIP plan and codify what is currently known as HIP 2.0. The governor’s position is that doing so strengthens the state’s position with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services when the new Medicare waiver is negotiated. Those opposed believe that the codification leaves no wiggle room. The bill also repeals statutes governing the high risk Indiana check-up plan.

A Stop to ISTEP

Due to the catastrophic mess that has become ISTEP, three bills were passed this legislative session addressing the issues. SB 200 (Measuring School and School Corporation Performance) and HB 1003 (Teacher Evaluations) give essentially a one-year exemption for last year’s test scores as they relate to teacher evaluations and school performance. Teachers will still be evaluated on other factors, but 2015 ISTEP won’t be included. The same goes for schools.

HB 1395 puts a stop to the ISTEP exam after 2017 and creates a 23-member panel to make recommendations on Indiana’s assessment choices for the future by year end.