MN Legislative Update: Gun Violence Prevention, the PRO Act, Mid-Year Formulary Changes + More

Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) lobbyist Dave Renner, CAE, shares an update from the Capitol, highlighting action on gun violence prevention legislation, limiting mid-year formulary changes, updating the All-Payers Claims Database and banning conversion therapy plus the passage of the Patient Reproductive Options Act.

House Action on Gun Violence Prevention

The Minnesota House Public Safety Committee passed four bills aimed to reduce death and injury from firearms on February 3, 2023. Two of the bills also passed the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee on February 9, 2023.

The MAFP submitted a letter of support for three of the bills, and many family physicians submitted personal letters encouraging their passage.

Four Bills Aimed to Reduce Death & Injury from Firearms:
  • Bill HF 396 (Becker-Finn, DFL – Roseville): Strengthen safe storage laws for firearms and requirements that firearms be secured with a locking device, unloaded and kept separately from ammunition. The bill is designed to keep children and others from accessing firearms and prevent death and injury caused by accidental discharges and suicide attempts.
  • Bill HF 14 (Pinto, DFL – St. Paul): Broadens current criminal background check requirements to apply to private sales, online sales and gun show sales. The bill closes a loophole in current law that only applies to sales from licensed gun stores. 
  • Bill HF 15 (Frazier, DFL – New Hope): Permits certain law enforcement and family members to petition a court to prohibit people from possessing firearms if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others. The bill would temporarily remove firearms from individuals who may be at risk of harming themselves or others (sometimes referred to as “red flag” laws). One intended outcome of the bill is to reduce the rate of firearm suicides. In Minnesota, nearly 69 percent of firearm deaths are suicides.
  • Bill HF 601 (Her, DFL – St. Paul): Increases penalties for anyone who fails to report the loss or theft of a firearm to a law enforcement agency. The bill is intended to ensure that gun owners are held accountable if their weapon is used in a crime or injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms are the leading cause of death for children in the US: Every day, 78 kids are killed or injured by firearms in the US. States that have implemented bills like these have seen a decrease in firearm-related death and injury in children.
As was said many times during the hearing, each of these bills, by itself, will not address the problem of firearm injury and death. But taken together, with other efforts to reduce violence, these actions will help address the public health crisis of gun violence.
What’s next: Each bill passed on a party-line vote. HF 14 and HF 15 are now awaiting a final hearing in the Ways and Means Committee before being sent to the House floor. All of the bills are awaiting Senate hearings that are expected in the next few weeks. 

MAFP Joins in Support of the PRO Act 

MAFP President Alex Vosooney, MD, participated in a press conference at the Minnesota Capitol on January 27, 2023, with other physicians, medical students, nurses and public health experts to encourage the passage of the Patient Reproductive Options (PRO) Act.

“Our patients deserve the right to all evidence-based treatments and medications, including abortion care. As these rights are denied in some states and chipped away at nationally, it is important that the Minnesota Legislature ensure these rights here. [This legislation] is an important step to ensure our patients and the health care providers in our state can be confident in their ability to receive and provide reproductive health care. The PRO Act states that every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about their reproductive health care, including a fundamental right to use or refuse reproductive health care.” 

-Alex Vosooney, MD, President of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians

The event was held just prior to the Minnesota Senate convening to take final action on the bill. The Senate debated the bill for over 15 hours, finally passing it early in the morning hours of January 28, 2023, and Governor Tim Walz signed it into law on January 31, 2023.  

MAFP President Alex Vosooney, MD, speaking at the press conference in support of the PRO Act.

MAFP President Testifies in Support of Two Bills

Two bills that address legislative priorities for the MAFP were heard in the Minnesota House Health Finance and Policy Committee last week—one on limiting mid-year formulary changes and one on updating the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD). MAFP President Alex Vosooney, MD, testified in support of both bills that passed with overwhelming support. 

Bill to Limit Mid-Year Formulary Changes

HF 294 (Elkins-DFL, Bloomington) limits drug manufacturers from increasing the price of certain drugs once they have posted the price for an entire calendar year and limits the insurer or pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) from forcing a patient to change from a drug that is working during the patient’s contract year.
Currently, an insurance company or PBM can change their formulary at any time in a contract year, yet the patient is bound by that contract until the end of the enrollment year. This can lead to patients not receiving optimal care and increases administrative hassles for prescribers.

Bill to Update the APCD to Collect More Payments

HF 926 (Elkins-DFL, Bloomington) updates the APCD to include data that is not included in an insurance claim, such as value-based payments.
The MAFP supports this bill to ensure all payments are collected to provide a more complete picture of what we spend on health care in Minnesota. The bill also directs the Commissioner of Health to report the total spent on primary care services.
Representative Elkins amended the bill to include two priorities supported by Governor Tim Walz: expanding the APCD to include dental claims data and data on enrollee race and ethnicity (to the extent it is available). His amendment also allows the Commissioner of Health to release data that identifies hospitals, clinics and medical practices. 
The bill also requires third-party administrators to annually notify self-insured companies that they can voluntarily submit their payment data to the APCD to ensure the database is as complete as possible.

MAFP President Alex Vosooney, MD, testifying at the Capitol.

Conversion Therapy Ban Passes House Committee

Legislation to prohibit what is called “conversion therapy” for all children passed the Minnesota House Health Finance and Policy Committee on January 24, 2023.
The bill, HF 16 (Hollins, DFL-St. Paul), prohibits any mental health practitioner from engaging in conversion therapy with a client younger than 18 years old and declares that it is considered unprofessional conduct. The bill defines conversion therapy as any practice that seeks to change any individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The MAFP submitted a letter in support of the legislation: “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 the human experience, which should be celebrated.”

The bill passed and was re-referred to the House Commerce Committee. Its Senate companion, SF 23 (Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis), also passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on February 8, 2023, and was referred to the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s