Our legislative rep Dave Renner, CAE, shares an update on recent movement in the Minnesota legislature with regard to prior authorization and prohibiting midyear formulary changes, increasing insulin access, reducing the harms of tobacco and nicotine and improving postpartum coverage.
Family Medicine’s Voice at the Capitol
Two Minnesota Academy of Family Physician (MAFP) leaders testified at recent hearings.
President Crichlow Testified on Midyear Formulary Changes
Renée Crichlow, MD, FAAFP, MAFP President, testified in strong support of legislation to prohibit health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from changing their drug formulary in the middle of a patient’s contract year.
The bill, HF1257, was passed by the House Health and Human Services Finance Division and referred to the Ways & Means Committee. It allows health plans and PBMs to change formularies in the middle of a patient’s contract year, but not for anyone who is currently taking a successful drug therapy. This is a priority issue for the MAFP.
Paul Stadem, MD, Testifies on Midyear Formulary Changes for Insulin
MAFP Alternate Resident Director Paul Stadem, MD, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in support of a bill that prohibits health plans from changing their formularies mid-year for insulin only.
SF 365, authored by Senator Matt Little (DFL-Lakeville), passed with bipartisan support and was referred to the Health and Human Services Policy and Finance Committee.
Tobacco & Nicotine Bills Move Forward
Bills to reduce the harms of tobacco and nicotine passed committees in both the House and Senate in recent weeks.
- Legislation to prohibit the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to those under the age of 21 has cleared committees in both bodies and appears on track for passage this session. While federal law already sets the age to purchase at 21, Minnesota must act to strengthen enforcement and compliance provisions in existing law.
- Also moving in the House is HF 3072 to penalize the use of tobacco and e-cigarette devices in vehicles when minors are present. The legislation would make the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes a secondary offense, meaning that law enforcement would only be authorized to issue a fine if they stop a vehicle for another offense such as speeding, distracted driving or failure to yield. The bill awaits action by the entire House of Representatives and has not been scheduled for the Senate.
- The House Health & Human Services Policy Committee passed HF 3032, banning the sale of flavored tobacco and e-cigarette liquid. This legislation would also prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes, an ingredient that serves to mask the harshness of tobacco smoke, leading to quicker addiction and deeper inhalations by users.
Insulin Access Bills Continue to Move
Effort to pass legislation to provide access to insulin for low-income, uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans continues to move quickly through the House and Senate. The House passed HF 3100 by a margin of 75-52. SF 3019 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Policy and Finance Committee and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. That bill is expected to be on the Senate floor soon.
Both parties have made passage of the bill a priority, but there are major differences in the two approaches.
- What’s similar: Both bills provide insulin for one-time, emergency situations as well as create a longer-term access program. Both allow patients to pick up their insulin at their pharmacy or, if the manufacturer allows it, to have the insulin shipped directly to the patient.
- What’s different: The chief difference between the House and Senate bills is how the program is funded. The House proposal places a levy on insulin manufacturers who sell in Minnesota, while the Senate proposal uses insulin manufacturers’ patient assistance programs to make the drug available.
Postpartum Coverage Extended
The House Health & Human Services Policy Committee passed HF 3892 to extend postpartum coverage for low-income women from 60 days (the minimum allowed by federal law) to 12 months.
The bipartisan legislation, authored by Representative Kelly Morrison, MD (DFL – Deephaven), would allow eligible women to seek MinnesotaCare coverage for up to 12 months postpartum, while also instructing the state’s Department of Human Services to begin work to craft a waiver request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to allow Minnesota to use federal matching dollars to support the state’s share of the cost. Proponents of the legislation spoke of the worsening trends for maternal health in the U.S., particularly among women of color, as well as the clear link between maternal health and healthy babies.
The bill has not yet been scheduled for a Senate hearing.
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