Maryland lawmakers pass bill to provide at-home blood pressure monitoring coverage for state Medicaid recipients

The American Heart Association applauds the Maryland General Assembly for their unanimous support of life-saving legislation that will ensure state Medicaid recipients who have been diagnosed with uncontrolled high blood pressure are able to receive an at-home blood pressure monitoring device at no cost.

The Maryland Senate passed the legislation today and the House of Delegates approved the bill earlier in March. The bill, which would also require patients receive clinical support to use the device, now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan for signature.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke and can be linked to more than half a million deaths in the United States each year.

Almost half of American adults have hypertension, including approximately 1.5 million adults living in Maryland. It is often called the “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms.

“High blood pressure remains the key driver of heart disease and stroke, especially here in Maryland,” said Dr. Athol Morgan, a cardiologist from LifeBridge Health and member of the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association of Baltimore & Greater Maryland.

“In my opinion, the single most important advancement in the management of hypertension during my career has been the development of accurate, inexpensive and widely available devices, that allow patients to check and monitor their blood pressure themselves away from doctor’s offices or clinics,” Morgan said. “This legislation furthers that advance by enabling physicians and other health care providers to engage directly with the patient in the monitoring and management of their blood pressure. This is a real game changer.”

Only about 1 in 4 people with high blood pressure nationwide have it under control and an estimated 700,000 Marylanders have out of control high blood pressure, putting them at an increased risk of serious health conditions including a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and vision problems.

Research has shown that, when combined with additional clinical support, home blood pressure monitoring is effective in reducing hypertension, improving patient knowledge, and enhancing medication adherence, as well as reducing the risk of death and disability associated with high blood pressure.

Inconsistent insurance coverage for devices and provider reimbursement is a barrier to the use of self-monitoring blood pressure devices.

“The American Heart Association would like to thank bill sponsors Sen. Brian Feldman and Del. Harry Bhandari for their support of this meaningful legislation, our efforts to ensure equitable health for all Marylanders and to be a relentless force for longer and healthier lives,” said Tracy Brazelton, Executive Director of the American Heart Association of Baltimore & Greater Maryland.