Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) legislative rep Dave Renner, CAE, shares the latest health-care-related updates from the Minnesota Legislature.
There is about one month to go this legislative session. The Minnesota Legislature has passed just 17 laws this year, with over 8,000 total bills introduced between the House and Senate this biennium (note: the biennium includes legislative sessions from both 2021 and 2022).
Notably, two health care bills the legislature has passed are a compromise to fund $700 million for three more years of the state’s reinsurance program and a bill to allocate $25 million for research into ALS. No compromise has been met on two priority issues: money to repay a federal loan for the unemployment insurance program or funding for frontline worker bonus pay.
MN Senate Health & Human Services Omnibus Bill Passed to the Floor
The Senate Health and Human Services bill was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on April 19, 2022. The health portion of the omnibus bill (SF4198) was merged with the human services omnibus bill (SF4410) and passed to the floor. The bill is much smaller than the House version, both in length and the amount of money it spends.
The human services portion of the bill includes most of the spending items, focused on addressing workforce and staffing challenges faced by long-term care facilities and agencies, including funding for personal care assistants, nursing home staff and assisted living staff.
The Senate bill includes adoption of the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact. The compact allows RNs and LPNs to practice in member states without having to obtain an additional license. There are currently 37 states participating in the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact. This language is strongly opposed by the Minnesota Nurses Association and is not included in the House bill.
The bill also includes language to ensure patients who need ongoing opioids to treat chronic pain are not forced to inappropriately taper their medications. The bill states that prescribers cannot be disciplined solely for prescribing doses of opioids that exceed an arbitrary threshold for morphine milligram equivalent, IF it is not in the patient’s best interest.
MN House to Hear Health & Human Services Bill
The House Health and Human Services bill will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on April 27, 2022.
This bill includes funding for initiatives strongly supported by the MAFP:
- Prohibiting insurers from forcing patients who are on a certain medication to switch to a new medication during a contract year.
- Updating the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) to collect non-claims-based payments, such as value-based payments, with the goal of helping us to better understand how we pay for health care, including how much we pay for primary care services.
- Funding to support rural primary care residency training, loan forgiveness and other clinical training grants.
Differences between the Senate and House bills will have to be agreed to before the end of session, if any of these initiatives are to pass.
MN House DFL Sets Spending Targets
On April 19, 2022, the House Ways and Means Committee adopted a spending resolution for a $7.36 billion increase to the 2022-23 biennial state budget. The new House budget targets were set based on the state’s $9.25 billion budget surplus.
The resolution includes an additional $700 million for health and human services. That addition would bring the total 2022-23 health and human services spending to $16.88 billion.
Other major items in the spending resolution include $1.65 billion in tax aids and credits, $1.16 billion in new education spending and $1 billion for frontline worker pay. In total, the additional $7.36 in state spending would result in a total state budget of $59.11 billion.
Early Childhood Omnibus Bill Gets Split in Two & Receives Hearing
The omnibus early childhood and K-12 education bill (HF4300) was passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee on an 18-10 party vote and referred to the House floor.
Items funding school childcare assistance programs and early education programs make up the bulk of the early childhood items that were added to the K-12 omnibus bill. Specifically, funding for early learning scholarships, the Head Start program, the establishment of the brain builders bonus program, developmental screening program and Grow Your Own Early Childhood Educator programs are all included in the bill. In total, the bill appropriates $1.15 billion in fiscal year 2022 and $2.12 billion in fiscal years 2023 and 2024.
The other portions of the early childhood omnibus bill will be heard in Ways and Means on April 27, 2022, where they will be added to the health and human services omnibus bill.
The Senate Finance Committee passed a much smaller K-12 omnibus bill (SF4113) on April 19, 2022, that focused almost exclusively on literacy programs. That bill has yet to be voted on in the Senate.