MAFP legislative rep Dave Renner, CAE, shares about movement in the Minnesota Legislature to prevent mid-year formulary changes; encourage tobacco prevention and fund smoking cessation services; prevent firearm violence; license pharmacy benefit managers; and provide vaccine education, contraception coverage and step therapy protections.
Mid-year Formulary Changes
Legislation to protect patients against mid-year changes in their health plan’s drug formulary (HF 1257) cleared the Minnesota House Commerce Committee and was referred to the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Policy Committee. The Senate companion bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.
Many patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, select their health plan, in part, because the medication they are taking is included on the plan’s formulary. Nothing in state law currently precludes a health plan from changing the formulary or preferred drug list in the middle of the patient’s contract year. Under HF 1257, however, patients who have begun a drug therapy would be protected against mid-year formulary changes.
A similar bill limited to insulin and diabetes-related equipment (HF 288) passed the Minnesota House Commerce Committee and is awaiting hearing in the HHS Policy Committee. HF 288 prohibits health plans from removing coverage for a particular brand of insulin or supplies during an enrollee’s contract year.
Tobacco Prevention & Smoking Cessation
Bills to more closely regulate tobacco and e-cigarette sales and usage have advanced. The most notable, HF 331, raises the age at which individuals may purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21. The bill cleared the Minnesota House Commerce Committee and House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division. The Senate companion bill also passed the Senate’s HHS Finance and Policy Committee.
Two other tobacco and nicotine-related bills also saw forward movement, including HF 349 which will add e-cigarettes to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.
Another tobacco related bill, HF 350, provides state funding for smoking cessation services, as current funding for cessation services, provided by Clearway Minnesota’s QUITPLAN, is set to sunset in 2021.
Firearm Safety Measures
Two measures intended to prevent firearm violence were considered in the Minnesota House. HF 8 extends the criminal background check requirements to include most firearm sales and transfers, and HF 9 will allow law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others. Both bills passed the Minnesota House Judiciary and Civil Law Committee and House Finance Division. The bills were referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Senate has not acted upon any firearm-related legislation, this session, and is unlikely to do so.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers Licensure
Legislation to license pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) has passed through all policy committees in the Minnesota House as well as the Senate’s HHS Policy and Finance Committee.
HF 728 requires all PBMs operating in Minnesota to become licensed and file annual reports on the cost and payments for medications. The bill also prohibits PBMs from imposing gag clauses on pharmacies and ensures that patients are provided the least expensive drugs available to them.
Funding to provide education about the benefits of immunizations to communities with low vaccination rates (HF 1182) passed the Minnesota House HHS Policy Committee and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee. The Senate companion bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.
Legislation to ensure that comprehensive contraceptive services are available as preventive services (HF 963) passed the Minnesota House Commerce Committee and is waiting action in the House HHS Policy Committee.
The bill ensures that contraceptive services are available with little or no cost-sharing requirements. Most Minnesota health plans offer this now, but with recent limitations proposed at the federal level, this bill will ensure continued support. The Senate companion bill has not received a hearing.
Step Therapy Protections
A proposal to extend protections against potentially harmful step therapy requirements to MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance patients (HF 815) passed through the Minnesota House HHS Policy Committee. The Senate bill has not received a hearing yet.