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.