With less than a month remaining in the 2019 legislative session, legislators, staff and advocates are settling in for some long debates at the Minnesota State Capitol. MAFP legislative representative Dave Renner, CAE, shares the latest update on the Health and Human Services budget bills.
The Health and Human Services budget bills moved in both the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate last week. The bills are starkly different, not only in size, but in how they propose spending.
The House bill passed the lower body on a party line vote, following a 10-hour debate with over 100 amendments proposed. The Senate bill cleared the Finance Committee by a similar margin.
MN House Health & Human Services Bill
The House bill increases funding for Health and Human Services programs and, notably, includes a repeal of the provider tax sunset.
It also features language and funding to enact OneCare, Governor Walz’s version of a MinnesotaCare buy-in. Under this plan, a health plan with a benefit set similar to MinnesotaCare could be purchased by individuals who currently shop for health insurance on the individual market. The proposal uses funding from the Health Care Access Fund to begin operation, though the intent is for the program to be entirely supported by premiums going forward.
The House bill also includes dozens of smaller proposals related to mental health, childcare, public health measures, prescription drug pricing and more.
A few notable provisions include:
- Increasing the age to buy tobacco and nicotine products to 21
- Funding for tobacco cessation services
- Licensing and transparency requirements for pharmacy benefit managers
- Prohibiting the change of drug formularies for patients who are on a successful drug therapy
- Banning conversion therapy for minors and excluding coverage for conversion therapy services under Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare
- Removing the mandated reporting law for physicians who treat pregnant women in their care who are using illicit drugs
MN Senate Health & Human Services Bill
The Senate bill is much smaller in size and scope than the House. It does not maintain the provider tax, so has $700 million less each year to spend.
Because the provider tax is repealed in their bill, it moves most of the spending that is currently funded out of the Health Care Access Fund to the General Fund. It also cuts the benefit set currently provided under MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance, to align it with what is offered to those purchasing in the individual market. This cuts coverage for adult dental and vision services.
The Senate proposal is expected to come before the full body on April 29, 2019. Following passage by both the House and Senate, a conference committee made of members of both bodies will be appointed to negotiate a single bill for consideration.