New Efforts to Expand Access to Laboratory Tests in Maryland

February 6, 2019By Serra J. Schlanger

Readers who work with laboratory tests are likely aware that such tests can be subject to regulation by FDA, CMS, and individual states. A few state laws, particularly those in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, currently constrain how some laboratory tests are offered in those states.

On February 2, 2019, two bills were introduced to the Maryland General Assembly to address Maryland’s constraints. HB0526 and SB0495 both propose to modify Maryland Health General Code § 17‑215, which prohibits advertising or soliciting for medical laboratories. The Maryland law currently states: “A person may not directly or indirectly advertise for or solicit business in this State for any medical laboratory, regardless of location, from anyone except a physician, hospital, medical laboratory, clinic, clinical installation, or other medical care facility.” Under Maryland law, a “medical laboratory” includes “any facility, entity, or site that offers or performs tests or examinations in connection with the diagnosis and control of human diseases or the assessment of human health, nutritional, or medical conditions or in connection with job-related drug and alcohol testing.” Md Health Gen. Code § 17‑201(c). The cross-filed bills seek to create an exception to the current prohibition for laboratory tests that are ordered by a physician and performed by a medical laboratory certified under 42 U.S.C. § 263a (e.g., a CLIA-certified laboratory). If passed, the change would take effect on October 1, 2019.

It appears that the advertising prohibition has been in effect in Maryland since 1957, but the reasoning behind this particular law may be lost in the history books. Regardless, there have been many, many changes and developments in the field of laboratory testing and the regulations that apply to laboratory testing over the past 60+ years. For example, federal regulation of laboratory testing was introduced in 1967 (see Pub. Law 90-174 § 5(a)) and then amended by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988. FDA’s views and regulation of laboratory tests have also changed over the past 60+ years, particularly for laboratory developed tests (LDTs) (see previous posts here, here, here, here, here, and here). Congress is currently considering changes to the regulatory framework for laboratory tests (see our coverage of the VALID Act here).

We work with a number of clients who have been restricted by the current Maryland law and believe that the law is likely limiting the laboratory testing available to Maryland residents. We will continue to monitor these efforts to expand access to laboratory testing in Maryland.