Conaway Bill to Get More People Tested, Treated for HIV Clears Assembly Panel
Measure would focus on people living in areas with a high prevalence of HIV
(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D to help get more people living in areas with a high prevalence of HIV tested, and provide those who test positive with information about treatment options.
“An HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. People who are infected and getting treatment can live normal lives,” said Conaway. “But they have to know their status.”
The bill (A-3927) would require hospital, bio-analytical, and clinical laboratories – pursuant to a standing order issued by the chief medical officer of the laboratory – to provide individuals who reside in an area with a high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with a verbal and written statement of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) policy regarding HIV, and offer to provide an HIV screening test to that individual.
“This can also help reduce infection rates,” said Conaway. “We want people to not only get help, but take the necessary protections to prevent the spread of the infection.”
If the individual consents to the test, the laboratory must perform the test and transmit the test results to the health care provider rendering the referral for laboratory services.
In the case of a hospital laboratory, the standing order would be required to designate a process for an appropriate member of the hospital staff to contact an individual who tests positive for HIV, to advise the individual of the test results, provide the individual with information concerning counseling services, resources, and programs, and to encourage them to seek appropriate follow-up care.
Diagnosed cases of HIV are to be reported to, and held confidential by, the Department of Health (DOH) in accordance with current law as set forth at P.L.1989, c.303 (C.26:5C-5 et seq.).
Nothing in the bill would affect the scope of practice of any health care professional or diminish any authority or legal or professional obligation of any health care professional to offer an HIV screening test, or to provide services or health care for the individual who is subject to an HIV screening test.
A hospital, bio-analytical, or clinical laboratory would not be required to provide an individual with a statement of CDC policy regarding HIV screening and offer to provide an HIV screening test to the individual pursuant to the bill if, upon a review of the laboratory’s records, it is determined the individual was tested for HIV within the past four months.
In the event that a laboratory that performs an HIV screening tests under the bill is out-of-network with respect to a covered person’s health benefits plan, the carrier is to reimburse the lab for the cost of the screening test at the carrier’s in-network rate, or in any other reasonable amount as agreed upon by the lab and the carriers, less any applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible.
In no case may a laboratory bill a covered person for the screening test, except for the covered person’s applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible.
The Commissioner of Health would be required to review HIV incidence rates throughout the state and generate a list of locations in the state with a high prevalence of HIV infection.
The list would have to be updated quarterly or at such other intervals as the commissioner deems appropriate, and would be made available through the DOH website for laboratories to use for the purpose of determining whether to provide an individual with a statement of CDC policy regarding HIV screening and offer to provide an HIV screening test pursuant to the bill.
The commissioner would be required to evaluate the impact of the bill with respect to the number of individuals who are screened for HIV and the number of individuals who have accessed health care, counseling, or other resources, programs, or services following a positive test.
No later than one year after the effective date of the bill, the commissioner would be required to submit a report of the evaluation to the governor and to the Legislature.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services chaired by Conaway.