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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 2021 session runs from Jan. 5 to May 17.

April 2, 2012

Senate Hears, Tables Newborn Screening Bill

With testimony from two MN-AAP pediatrician members offering qualified support, a bill was heard last week to allow the state’s Newborn Screening Program to use bloodspots for quality assurance and establish a consent program for longer term storage of spots and test results. The bill was tabled in committee, and its future is uncertain.

House and Senate Unveil Supplemental Finance Bills

The House and Senate unveiled budget supplemental bills containing some new spending and dozens of new policy proposals. Of particular note, the bills contain funding for a study of autism in the Somali-American community, language about establishing a “pediatric care coordination” service for certain infants and children, and a speedier prior authorization process for OT, PT, speech language therapies, and mental health services for some patients.

March 20, 2012

Newborn Screening

A bill to codify some of the changes that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) enacted following a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in November impacting the state’s newborn screening program was the subject of behind-the-scenes discussion last week. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the MN-AAP, other physician groups and parents of impacted children lamented the ruling’s impact on the program.  The bills, SF 2463 and HF 2697, are sponsored by Sen. David Hann (R – Eden Prairie) and Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R – Lakeville).

While supportive of the bills language allowing the program to continue to run high quality tests, the MN-AAP, other physicians groups, researchers, and advocates noted that the bill doesn’t go far enough in re-establishing the nation-leading program that existed prior to the Bearder decision. Specifically, MN-AAP remains concerned that a 71-day period is inadequate for completion of full testing. MN-AAP remains opposed to any efforts that might occur to make the program “opt-in” and continues to work closely with other child advocates on this issue.

First Policy Deadline Passes

One of the key dates in the legislative calendar passed on March 16.  Under guidelines established by the majority party in the House and Senate shortly after the start of the session, all legislation related to policy must have passed all policy committees in either the House or the Senate.  Bills that have not met the deadline are considered “dead” for the remainder of the session (though creative lawmakers will be searching for other vehicles to move their proposals forward, including the newborn screening bill).  This deadline has made for a busy two weeks as legislators worked to clear the first legislative hurdles.  Note that bills pertaining to spending, constitutional amendments, taxes, and bonding are not subject to the deadline rule, and exceptions can always be made if a legislator has the votes to waive deadlines. The next deadline – March 23 – looms.  By that date, policy bills will have to have cleared policy committees in both bodies.

Changes to the BMP, Physician Reporting Move Forward

Proposed changes to the information that the Board of Medical Practice (BMP) is required to make public on its website continue to move forward in the Legislature.  The House bill, HF 2555, has moved through several policy committees and awaits action in the House State Government Finance Committee.

Under the bill, the BMP would be required to publish on its web site all malpractice judgments brought against a physician.  Under earlier iterations of the House bill, malpractice settlements would also be posted on the web site, though that provision was removed by the author.  In addition, the bill would require all licensees to submit a full set of fingerprints and be subject to a criminal background check.  The MMA and other physician groups have been expressing concern with the fingerprint requirement, arguing that it is needlessly burdensome given the thorough vetting physicians are subject to thought the credentialing process.

The Senate companion, SF 2304 is being authored by Sen. Terri Bonoff (D – Minnetonka).  It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

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.

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