MN Legislative Update: LARC Coverage, Abortion Access, Paid Leave & Conversion Therapy

Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) lobbyist Dave Renner, CAE, shares an update from the Capitol, highlighting current movement on legislation on LARC coverage and abortion access, meetings with legislators about the MAFP’s priorities, support for paid family leave and banning conversion therapy and more.

MAFP President Testifies on LARC Coverage & Meets with Legislators 

Alex Vosooney, MD, MAFP President, testified before the Minnesota House Health Finance and Policy Committee on January 17, 2023, in support of legislation extending Medical Assistance (MA) coverage for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) immediately postpartum. Currently, MA requires a patient to return after being discharged from the hospital to receive coverage for the insertion of a LARC. 

“LARC is a highly effective reversible contraception and has high levels of patient satisfaction. Many patients consider this and other contraceptive options in the postpartum stage and it can be a natural time for placement prior to leaving the hospital after delivery. The current lack of reimbursement creates a barrier for patients and a frustration for health care providers” (Alex Vosooney, MD).

The legislation received significant support from the committee but was laid over for possible inclusion in the committee’s omnibus budget bill. 

Following the hearing, MAFP President Vosooney and Chief Operating Officer Jami Burbidge, MAM, met with key legislators to promote the MAFP legislative priorities, including legislation to update the All-Payer Claims Database to know how much we pay for primary care services, legislation to limit mid-year formulary changes for patients, a strong investment in training for the physician workforce and support for prohibiting the use of non-complete clauses in physician employment contracts. Meetings were held with Representative Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley), Representative Robert Bierman (DFL-Apple Valley), Representative Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), Senator Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington), Senator Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids) and Senator Alice Mann, MD, MPH (DFL-Bloomington). 

Abortion Access Bills Advance

A pair of bills to ensure access to abortion care continue to quickly move towards passage in Saint Paul. The first is HF1 (Kotyza-Witthuhn, DFL – Eden Prairie), the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act. It had hearings in both the House and Senate and passed the House floor on January 19, 2023. The bill would codify the right to reproductive freedom and autonomous decisions about an individual’s own reproductive health and outlines the fundamental right to use or refuse reproductive health care, including abortion. It is expected to be taken up on the Senate floor this week and could be signed into law by the end of the month. 

A related bill, HF 91 (Liebling, DFL – Rochester)/SF 70 (Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley), would repeal existing statutes that obstruct access to abortion care/services. Many of these statutes have already been ruled unconstitutional but remain on the books in Minnesota. The bill would repeal:  

  • Criminal penalties for physicians who perform induced abortions without first disclosing anesthetic or analgesic options to alleviate pain of the fetus.  
  • Informed consent waiting periods for abortions.  
  • Data reporting requirements for abortions.  
  • Statutory definitions of “family planning” which preclude organizations that provide abortion counseling, referrals and procedures from applying to family planning grants.  
  • State-based laws that restrict access to abortion by minors through mandatory parental notification.    

MAFP member Nicole Chaisson, MD, MPH, testified in support of this legislation in the Senate committee, and the MAFP has submitted letters of support for both pieces of legislation, in line with MAFP adopted policy.  

Governor Walz’s Budget: “Make Minnesota the Best State for Children” 

On January 17, 2023, Governor Tim Walz unveiled part of his 2023 state budget proposal. The $12 billion proposal is comprised of a multitude of policies designed to help Minnesota’s children and families, including new funding for mental health support services in schools, free lunches in schools, expanded access to pre-kindergarten and the creation of a new Department of Children, Youth and Families. The proposal also includes a significant expansion of Minnesota’s child tax credit laws. 

In a press release, the Governor was quoted saying, “I have made it my mission to make Minnesota the best state in the country for kids to grow up.” The announcement was the first of the administration’s four-piece budget proposal to be unveiled. 

Governor Walz touted the $12 billion proposal as the largest investment in public education in the state’s history. In December 2022, Minnesota Management and Budget announced a projected budget surplus of $17.6 billion. The Governor suggested much of the proposal will be paid for with the surplus. An updated projection is to be released in February 2023. 

MAFP Supports Paid Family & Medical Leave 

Legislation to provide a new program for paid family and medical leave in Minnesota passed its first committee and has strong support in the DFL-led legislature. 
The new state program would provide up to 90% of an individual’s income for up to up to 12 weeks of paid time off for medical leave for workers, including for pregnancy complications. It would also provide payment for up to 12 additional weeks for events such as a new child or to care for a seriously ill or dying relative. The bill includes a payroll tax hike of 0.7% paid by all employers to fund the program. 

The Walz Administration has been a vocal champion of paid family leave. Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove outlined the long-term benefits of the proposal, saying, “The first thousand days of a child’s life are the important thousand days for brain development. This is our workforce in 18 years.”  

The MAFP strongly supports paid family leave. 

The bill is traveling through committees in the Senate and is set to be heard in the House Workforce Development and Policy Committee on January 25, 2023. 

Legislation to Ban Conversion Therapy Passes House Committee  

MAFP medical student member Austen Ott testified in support of HF 16 (Hollins, DFL – St. Paul), a bill to prohibit the use of  “conversion therapy” for individuals under the age of 18 and for vulnerable adults. The bill received its first committee hearing in the Minnesota House of Representatives on January 18, 2023.  

Similar legislation has passed the House in previous sessions. However, the bill never received a hearing in the Senate. With the current DFL control of the Minnesota House and Senate, the bill is likely to be heard in both bodies and is en route to passing this year.   

In the MAFP letter that was provided to the committee, MAFP President Alex Vosooney, MD, said, “Prohibiting conversion therapy sends an important message that LGBTQ+ Minnesotans deserve compassionate and respectful care. They do not need to be cured of their identities. The MAFP supports our patients’ rights to express their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of being manipulated by a health care professional. Our members and patients represent the rich diversity of human experience, which should be celebrated.” 

On a 7-5 party line vote, HF 16 was referred to the Health Finance and Policy Committee. 

Sign Up for our Legislative Lunch + the Physicians’ Day at the Capitol

Wednesday, February 8, 2023, 11:00 am – 4:30 pm (Capitol Building, Saint Paul)
Gather with family physicians, residents and medical students at the Capitol in Saint Paul for a lunch and program, hosted by the MAFP. Featured speaker: MAFP member and Senator Alice Mann, MD, MPH.
After lunch, meet with lawmakers to advocate on behalf of family medicine and patients, as part of the Minnesota Medical Association’s Physicians’ Day at the Capitol.

Please sign up soon so there is time to schedule your meetings with legislators.

More on the Legislative Lunch + Day at the Capitol

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