This past month or so, the New Jersey Legislature passed twenty-five new statutes impacting health care, on top of the nine from the previous month. Mostly all of these bills have already been approved and become law. The statutes are as follows:

A1576 – Approved – This bill requires all employees of a health care facility to receive influenza vaccinations on or before December 31 of each year. The final version of this bill removed earlier provisions allowing employees to decline the vaccine, and instead, permits only a medical exemption based upon medical contraindications.

A1604 – Passed – This bill, entitled the “Recreational Therapists Licensing Act,” imposes regulation of persons offering recreational therapy services and devises professional licensing and certification standards to apply to persons practicing recreational therapy as well as those seeking to practice.

A1991 – Approved – This bill requires all students enrolling in an institution of higher education in the state to have received immunization for meningococcal disease as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It does not, however, make any changes to the existing provision of law that allows medical and religious exemptions to the immunization requirement.

A3670 – Passed – This bill provides for designation of acute stroke ready hospitals, establishes a Stroke Care Advisory Panel and statewide stroke database, and requires development of emergency medical services stroke care protocols.

A5031 – Passed – This bill requires hospital emergency departments to ask a person of childbearing age about recent pregnancy history, including specifically, whether or not that person has had a pregnancy that was ended within the past 365 days.

A5248 – Approved – This bill requires individual and small employer health benefits plans to provide coverage under every plan delivered, issued, executed or renewed in this state that meets the essential health benefits requirements provided by the bill.

A5501 – Approved – This bill requires health insurers and group health plans that provide dependent coverage of children to continue to make that coverage available for adult children until the children turn 26 years of age. The bill also provides that health insurers and group health plans may not deny coverage for a covered individual’s child on the grounds that the child is married, the child has or adopts a child, or the child starts or leaves school.

A5507 – Approved – This bill requires health insurers to provide coverage, without requiring any cost sharing, for expenses incurred in the provision of the following preventive services: (1) “A” or “B” rated services in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force; (2) immunizations recommended from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; and (3) preventive care and screenings for infants, children, adolescents, and women provided for in the Health Resources and Services Administration guidelines.

A5508 – Approved – This bill amends a previous statute requiring health insurance carriers and the State health benefits programs to cover prescription female contraceptives, by prohibiting insurers from imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost sharing requirement on this coverage. The bill also removes an exemption in the current law for religious employers to deny coverage if covering female contraceptives conflicts with the employer’s bona fide religious beliefs and practices.

A5916 – Passed – This bill authorizes the Department of Health to notify elected officials of financial distress of certain hospitals. It further authorizes the commissioner in those instances to appoint a monitor who shall oversee hospital administration, management, and/or operations.

A5667 – Passed – This bill, entitled “Charlie’s Law,” requires pharmacy practice sites and hospice programs to furnish patients with information and means to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs and medications.

A5917 – Approved – This bill expands the Department of Health’s Early Warning System, which is designed to detect signs that a hospital may be in or is approaching financial distress, to require consideration of the amount of management fees, allocations, and other payments made to third party entities, and the extent to which those fees, allocations, and payments reflect services actually rendered, with a particular focus on fees, allocations, and other payments made to a related or affiliated entity that does business with, or otherwise transfers assets to or from, the hospital.

A5918 – Passed – This bill requires hospitals to post on their Internet websites Internal Revenue Service Form 990 and all schedules and supporting documentation required to be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service in conjunction with Form 990 for the prior tax year. If the hospital does not file a Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service, the bill requires hospitals to post on their Internet website all governance, financial, and operating information that would otherwise be reported on Form 990 for the prior tax year, including the information that would be required to be submitted in the schedules and supporting documentation in conjunction with Form 990, to the extent that such information exists with respect to a for profit hospital.

A5977 – Passed - This bill requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish a Regional Health Hub Program and, in consultation with the Department of Health, designate Regional Health Hubs in appropriate areas of the state. The new Regional Health Hub Program will replace the Medicaid Accountable Care Organization Demonstration Project, which is now subject to expiration by law.

A6007 – Approved – This bill requires insurers or insurance groups to submit an annual report to the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance summarizing its corporate governance structure, policies, and practices, on or before June 1 of each calendar year.

S484 – Approved – This bill revises the State’s newborn screening program for congenital disorders by requiring the Commissioner of Health to establish a Newborn Screening Advisory Review Committee, consisting of medical, hospital, and public health professionals, scientific experts and consumer representatives, which would be authorized to make recommendations on the disorders to be screened for by the department, as well as on screening technologies, treatment options, and educational and follow-up procedures, to be used in the State’s newborn screening program.

S626 – Approved – This bill clarifies that a health insurer shall not impose, or include in its insurance policies, any provision excluding coverage for a preexisting condition. The bill also provides that an insurer shall not include any preexisting condition as a factor in calculating the premium.

S834 – Passed – This bill requires that a manufacturer of a non-prescription diabetes test device that is distributed within New Jersey must make the names of its authorized distributors available on its Internet Web site, and provide the Board of Pharmacy with the names of its authorized distributors, and update that list within 30 days of making any change in its authorized distributors. The bill also provides that a pharmacy that dispenses nonprescription diabetes test devices pursuant to prescriptions shall retain records of its acquisition, inventory, and sale of those non-prescription diabetes test devices.

S974 – Passed – This bill requires all infants born in this state to be tested for the genetic markers associated with spinal muscular atrophy, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is caused by abnormally functioning motor neurons that control voluntary movement, such as walking, talking, and swallowing.

S3116 – Passed – This bill requires certain medical facilities to undertake end-of-life planning and training as condition of the facility’s licensure. Specifically, assisted living facilities, dementia care homes, nursing homes, assisted living residences, comprehensive personal care homes, residential health care facilities, hospitals, and long-term care facilities shall require all administrative personnel and professional staff to complete an annual training on advance care planning, end-of-life care, and the use of advance directives and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms. These facilities are additionally to provide patients, residents and their families with educational materials on POLST forms, advance directives, and hospice and palliative care, and develop and implement policies to identify and address end-of-life care issues for patients and residents upon admission to the facility.

S3117 – Passed - This bill requires emergency departments of general hospitals in the state to develop and implement a plan to integrate the provision of palliative care services for patients treated in the emergency department for whom palliative care is appropriate, including: adopting a standardized screening tool, as recommended by the Department of Health, for use by health care professionals in the emergency department to facilitate the identification of patients who would benefit from palliative care services; providing patient-centered information, as developed by the Department of Health, concerning the benefits of palliative care; and considering the unique needs of patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities or behavioral health issues who present to the emergency department and for whom palliative care may be indicated.

S3159 – Approved – This bill provides for an expansion of the State Medicaid program to include coverage for pasteurized donated human breast milk under certain circumstances. Specifically, this bill provides that coverage under the Medicaid program includes expenses incurred for the provision of pasteurized donated human breast milk, which are required to include human milk fortifiers if indicated in a medical order provided by a licensed medical practitioner, to an infant under the age of six months.

S3270 – Passed – This bill amends the statutes that govern the New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program to prohibit health insurance carriers and other insurers from offering stop loss insurance policies to small employers in the state. The bill does not prohibit a carrier or any other insurer from offering, issuing, or renewing a stop loss insurance policy to a multiple employer arrangement.

S3348 – Approved – This bill requires each home health agency and specialty pharmacy that provides services to individuals with hemophilia, when those services include treatment services for bleeding episodes associated with hemophilia, to comply with certain standards. These standards include a prohibition against making substitutions for prescribed blood products; providing a broad range of clotting factor products and ancillary supplies; having the ability to promptly deliver prescribed blood products, medications, and nursing services in an emergency, and maintaining a 24-hour on-call service; meeting certain requirements concerning relevant knowledge and experience, recordkeeping and documentation, and hazardous waste removal; and providing covered individuals with certain information concerning health benefits coverage.

S4165 – Passed – This bill expands the membership of the University Hospital board of directors from 11 to 13 members by adding the Mayor of Newark as an ex officio member and by adding an additional public member, to be appointed by the Governor. The new public member will be required to have experience in a health care field, such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, nursing, or physical or occupational therapy, or to have experience in a hospital management field such as finance, planning, human resources, research, or population health.