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Legislative Updates & Alerts

During the legislative session, MNAAP members receive bi-weekly legislative updates emailed to them from the chapter’s policy chair and lobbyist.

The 2020 session runs from Feb.11 to May 18.

February 20, 2012

Pediatrician’s Day at the Capitol Tuesday!
Make plans to join the MN-AAP for the annual “Pediatricians’ Day at the Capitol,” set for Tuesday, February 21. The event brings together pediatricians from around the state to talk about issues facing patients and our profession. With the state’s Commissioner of the Department of Health set to join us at noon, and legislators from both parties dropping by to visit with the group, it’s a terrific opportunity to lend your voice to our shared efforts. If you would like to join, please call MN-AAP at 651-402-2056 or stop by the Capitol (Room 316) at noon. More details

Volume of Legislation Picks Up
With less than a month of the 2012 Legislation completed and over 1,000 bills already introduced, the pace of the session has clearly picked up. The MN-AAP has been closely following a number of new proposals, including threats to vaccine usage and repeal of minor consent, as well as opportunities around tobacco use and bullying prevention. While the Capitol has seen lots of activity, the health care committees have yet to hear a substantial number of individual bills. Watch for that to change in the coming weeks.

MN-AAP policy priorities this year include advocating for access to and coverage of optimal healthcare for all children, for bullying prevention, and for initiatives which promote early brain development. The following are several noteworthy bills that the MN-AAP has been following in recent days:

  • A proposal by Rep. Mary Franson (R – Alexandria) that would make it easier for parents to opt-out of the state’s mandatory vaccination program for their school-age children.
  • A bill by Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R – Vergas), SF 1865, would repeal the state’s minor consent provisions. Minnesota’s minor consent law allows minors to seek treatment from physicians for reasons related to drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, and sexual health without first receiving consent from a parent or guardian. A similar bill was introduced last year; however, it did not move out of committee following testimony by MN-AAP members.
  • HF 2230, a bill by Rep. Jim Abeler (R – Anoka), would require that MDH develop and implement a pediatric care coordination program for children with high-cost medical or high-cost psychiatric conditions who are at risk of recurrent hospitalization or emergency room use for acute, chronic, or psychiatric illness. This same bill would mandate that the health plans under contract with the state implement strategies to reduce the incidence of low-birth weight newborns. As a leading advocate for health care homes, MN-AAP will continue to monitor and advocate for ongoing improvements to support the pediatric health care home.
  • As noted in an earlier legislative update, Rep. Jim Abeler is the author of anti-bullying bill, HF 1953. A different approach than earlier bullying prevention efforts, this bill does not specifically name characteristics (such as race, gender, sexual orientation) in its definition of “bullying.”
  • In an effort to “streamline” government, a proposal by Senator Mike Parry, SF 1639, would abolish the Department of Health, as well as a number of other state agencies.
February 6, 2012

Newborn Screening Program Changes Go Forward

Following a series of court cases and legal maneuvers, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) began destroying blood spots collected as part of the state’s Newborn Screening Program as required by a November 2011 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling.

Bi-Partisan Bullying Prevention Bill Introduced

In a change from previous sessions, a bullying prevention bill introduced this session has a Republican lead author. Earlier efforts have been led by DFL members. The bill, HF 1953, is being carried by Rep. Jim Abeler (R – Anoka); Rep. Debra Hilstrom (D – Brooklyn Center) is a co-author.  While comparable to legislation pursued in prior sessions, the bill differs in the way it defines “bullying.” Unlike earlier efforts, it does not seek to define bullying by referencing specific factors such as “race, gender, and sexual orientation.”

January 23, 2012

Legislature to Return on January 24

The second year of the biennium is set to begin next week, on Tuesday, January 24, when legislators return to St. Paul.  With the surprising news of an expected budget surplus, legislative action is expected to focus on a new Vikings stadium, possible constitutional amendments, bonding, and the majority’s “Reform 2.0” agenda.  With the redistricting process not yet completed and all 201 legislative seats on the ballot in November, many anticipate a short session with a modest agenda.

MN-AAP Sets Legislative Priorities

After extensive discussion, the MN-AAP has selected its key issues for the 2012 Legislative Session.  As in years past, the chapter has chosen to focus on ensuring that all Minnesota infants, adolescents, and pregnant women receive comprehensive health coverage.  In addition, pediatricians and MN-AAP staff will be talking to legislators about the important of preventing bullying amongst youths, as well as working to improve opportunities for early childhood brain development.  Other issues, including obesity prevention, minor consent, and the Newborn Screening Program, remain key.

July 26, 2011

The Minnesota Legislature passed all of the state’s budget bills and Governor Dayton signed them into law at 9:00 am Wednesday, July 20.  This action was based on a compromise reached last week between Dayton, Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. While the compromise was disliked by both sides, they agreed to it to end the 19-day state shutdown.

Overall the new budget spends $35.4 billion over the next two-year budget period. This is $1.4 billion more than the bills the Legislature passed and the Governor vetoed, and approximately $2 billion less than the budget proposed by Governor Dayton.  In the Health and Human Services area, the new budget spends $11.3 billion of general fund money. This is nearly $500 million more spending than the Legislature proposed and $180 million less than the Governor’s recommendations.

The Health and Human Services bill was first released to the public Tuesday night around 10:00 p.m. and voted on just after midnight. After reviewing the language in the bill, and after listening to the supporters and detractors summarize the bill, it is a mixed bag.

Key spending and budget elements:

  • It spends approximately $500 million more in HHS than was passed by the Legislature in May.
  • It continues the early enrollment of MA for adults without children. This results in the elimination of that state’s GAMC program and the capturing of federal matching money to cover this population.
  • It does not cut anyone completely off our public programs.
  • It does not limit us from receiving federal money from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • It begins phasing out the 2% provider tax and repeals it altogether in 2019.
  • It provides $15 million to the State Health Improvement Program (SHIP) for FY 2012

Noted spending cuts:

  • It cuts general fund spending in the HHS areas by nearly $1 billion.
  • It cuts physician and other outpatient provider rates by 3% across the board.
  • It includes cuts to PMAP health plans ranging from 10-13% that most likely will be passed on to physicians and other providers in reduced payments.
  • It implements a voucher program for MinnesotaCare that will provide vouchers to adults without children earning between 200% and 250% of the poverty level.  These vouchers will allow enrollees to purchase coverage in the private market.  There is not enough detail in the bill to know whether the coverage they will be able to afford will adequately cover outpatient services without large deductibles.
  • It cuts the Medical Education and Research Cost (MERC) program by 50% in 2012, reducing to a 25% cut in 2013.

What is also important to note is there are a number of controversial items that were in the earlier passed HHS legislation that are not a part of this deal.  They include:

  • There are no changes to newborn screening program or limitations to the collection of that data.
  • There is no language limiting the use of vaccines that include “fetal DNA.”
  • There is nothing that reduces reimbursements to “high-cost providers.”
  • There is nothing that “silos” health care homes by creating pregnancy health care homes, mental health care homes, or other condition specific health care homes.
  • There are no new limitations on stem-cell research or abortion-related services.

Of particular interest to the MN-AAP, the bill does contain language creating the “Minnesota Task Force on Prematurity.”  The task force is charged with crafting a report to the Legislature.  The bill also continues the “Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force,” on which a member appointed by the MN-AAP is to serve. It too is tasked with drafting a report to the Legislature.

May 31, 2011

Legislature Adjourns; No Budget Deal in Place

The constitutionally mandated adjournment came to the Legislature on Monday, May 23 with no budget deal in place.  A special session is a certainty, and a government shutdown looms if agreement is not reached by June 30.

Physician “Gag Rule” Bill Introduced

Similar to efforts in Florida and Mississippi, a bill has been introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate that would prohibit physicians from asking patients and patients’ families about the availability and access to firearms.  The bill did not receive a hearing prior to adjournment, but remains alive for the 2012 session.

MN-AAP Weighs in on MERC

Joining with more than a dozen physicians’ groups, hospitals, health care systems, and academics, the MN-AAP called on Governor Dayton and legislative leaders to reconsider the proposed deep cuts to MERC.  Arguing that cuts of the magnitude proposed by the Legislature would have devastating impact on medical research and medical education, the groups urged leaders to adequately fund this vital program.

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