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Week of February 18, 2019

Much of the activity at the legislature this past week was focused on Governor Walz’s budget, which was released on Tuesday. As expected, Governor Walz’s budget contains a proposal to repeal the sunset of the provider tax. That proposal can be found on page 28 of the Human Services portion of Governor Walz’s Budget.

Attached you will find updated information about bills that have been introduced this session of interest to MCA.

Week of February 11, 2019

In our weekly report last week, we provided the recently announced dates for the traditional three legislative deadlines that are set each session to guide committee process work on legislation. Earlier this week, three additional new legislative deadlines (for a total of six) were announced to help guide legislative work in the final legislative session month of May. This new second set of deadlines is aimed to help make end of session negotiations more transparent and functional as compared to past sessions. The new additional three deadlines are as follows, courtesy of the MN House Session Daily:

  • The House and Senate will pass all major finance bills off their respective floors and leadership will appoint conference committees by May 1;
  • The governor, Senate majority leader and House speaker will provide fiscal targets to the chairs of conference committees on major finance bills by May 6; and
  • Conference committee chairs shall provide completed conference committee reports to the house of origin by May 13.

Attached you will find updated information about bills that have been introduced this session of interest to MCA.

Week of February 4, 2019

This past week marked the fifth week of the 2019 MN legislative session, and key legislative deadlines were recently announced providing a component of the roadmap for proceedings between now and the end of session. The first committee deadline will be Friday, March 15, the date by which committees must act favorably on bills in the house of origin. The second committee deadline will be Friday, March 29, the date by which committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline. The third committee deadline will be Friday, April 12, the date by which committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills. The legislative Spring break will begin Saturday, April 13, and go through Monday, April 22. The 2019 Legislature must end by May 20.

Attached you will find updated information about bills that have been introduced this session of interest to MCA.

Week of January 28, 2019

During this past fourth week of the MN 2019 Legislative Session, the steady stream of committee hearings, legislative press conferences and bill introductions continued on. As a reminder, both the MN House and MN Senate contain on their websites a list of all bill introductions to date this session, that list can be found here for the MN House and here for the MN Senate.

Attached you will find our weekly update about bills that have been introduced this session of interest. Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback about the attached information.

Provider Tax Repeal and a MinnesotaCare buy-in Proposal

Legislation to repeal the 2% Provider Tax “sunset” at the end of 2019 has been introduced in the Senate (SF 399), but there is currently no similar proposal in the House. An alternative Claims Expenditure Assessment proposal for addressing the controversial issue of MinnesotaCare funding is being promoted by the Minnesota Medical Association.

While no specific legislation has been introduced in the House or Senate, in lieu of the provider tax, the “assessment” would be applied health care claims processed by insurers or third-party administrators. This would shift the tax burden away from the provider community and, unlike the current tax, patient out-of-pocket spending such as co-pays, deductibles and non-covered services would be excluded.

A large number of House DFL members have also introduced legislation (HF 3) enabling the commissioner of human service to establish a MinnesotaCare purchase option. The Health and Human Services Policy committee will be the first stop for that bill and there are two provisions of interest. One referring to establishing “… reimbursement rates to providers which are adequate to ensure essential provider viability” and a second establishing direct contracting with health providers to “contain costs.”

Similar bills have been introduced in the Senate (SF 684, SF 719 and SF 720).

Legislation regarding the provider tax repeal or replace issue and the MinnesotaCare buy-in option will likely generate strong support and opposition as the 2019 session evolves.

Reimbursement for Chiropractic Services in the Medical Assistance Program

Expanding reimbursement for the full scope of chiropractic services is a current priority for the Minnesota Chiropractic Association. A bill introduced in 2018, but was not heard in committee, will be reintroduced in this session and our lobby team, led by Mr. Kevin Goodno, is currently seeking bill authors.

Other Session Updates

Non-Pharmacologic Pain Management

In the 2018 legislative session, a bill was introduced that would require the Health Services Policy Committee, which advises the Commissioner of Human Services, to make recommendations on the integration of multidisciplinary, nonpharmacologic pain management therapies provided by chiropractic doctors; acupuncture practitioners; physical therapists; medical and osteopathic physicians; nurse practitioners; and psychologists.

The legislation was included in a large omnibus bill eventually vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton. However, a number of “non-controversial” provisions – including the non-pharmacologic pain management concept of interest to the MCA – have now been reintroduced in SF 74 co-authored by Sen. Jim Abeler. The bill has passed out of both Senate health policy and finance committees and will be considered next by the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy committee. A House version has not yet been introduced.

Opioid Legislation

In a lengthy hearing on Wednesday, January 30, the House Health and Human Services Policy committee heard testimony on a comprehensive bill (HF 400) to address the opioid crisis in Minnesota. In addition to several impactful stories from individuals who had either lost family members or were struggling themselves from narcotic addiction, and two physicians – including Dr. Chris Johnson who remarked that “… my profession failed you.”

The video from the first committee to consider that bill is worth watching – particularly beginning at 25:45 through concluding remarks by Dr. Johnson.

While establishing an “opioid stewardship account” with proceeds from a registration fee paid by opioid manufacturers is the main focus on the legislation, there are provisions in the bill requiring all health plans to cover acupuncture services for the treatment of pain, when performed by acupuncture practitioners or chiropractic doctors, and a two-hour continuing education requirement for medical physicians, nurses and dentists on nonpharmacological alternatives.

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