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Health care bill among 170 signed into law by O'Malley

April 13, 2010
  • The Maryland State House in Annapolis
Associated Press,

ANNAPOLIS (AP) -- Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation focusing on health care into law on Tuesday, hours after the Maryland General Assembly adjourned.

O'Malley signed 170 pieces of legislation, including a measure creating civil penalties for people who make false health claims.

"Today, governor, you're going to sign a bill that will give the attorney general the tools to recover $20 million in fiscal year 2011 ... money that shouldn't be lining the pockets of unscrupulous providers," said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who worked out a compromise with the Maryland Hospital Association.

O'Malley signed legislation to allow 3,400 nurse practitioners in Maryland to be primary care providers in Maryland.

A measure to create a framework to establish a patient centered medical home program also was signed by the governor.

"We're going to give patients a greater role in the decision making in their own health care and we're going to give primary care providers the opportunity to focus more on wellness and prevention and less on treating disease," Brown said.

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The chemical bisphenol-A will be banned in bottles and cups for children under 4 years old under another bill signed by the governor. The ban will take effect in 2012, a year later than initially proposed. The measures require the least toxic alternative to be used instead.

O'Malley, a Democrat, also signed a bill to enable the Maryland Health Insurance Plan to participate in a temporary national pool to make health insurance available to the uninsured. The pool is designed to make health insurance available to uninsured people before the overall national market reforms take effect in 2014. It will enable Maryland to collect a portion of about $5 billion that will be available from the federal government for the states.

Bills unrelated to health care also were approved by the governor.

O'Malley signed the "No Representation Without Population Act," which will count people who are in prison at their home addresses, instead of the district where they are incarcerated.

"That district gets inflated and padded with that population, and it skews the numbers in an election and it's not an accurate reflection," said Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, D-Prince George's, who sponsored the legislation.

O'Malley also signed a bill allowing businesses to choose to be a benefit corporation, enabling them to work a cause into the framework of their business goals. The bill offers legal protection for company directors who make business decisions involving public and environmental values.

"It's a kind of branding mechanism for corporations that want to both pursue a private purpose and a public purpose at the same time," said Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, a bill sponsor.

A bill allowing Montgomery County schools to avoid a $23.4 million penalty for not maintaining its level of spending also was signed. County officials say they funded schools above the maintenance of effort level before the recession hit, but budget challenges have made it hard to maintain that spending level.

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