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Legislative Summary: 5/26/17

This is a summary only. To receive full legislative updates on a biweekly basis, you must be a member of MNAAP. The emails provide additional details about legislative issues that are not posted on our website and are for members only.

  • Despite January pledges from legislative leaders to complete work on time and in a transparent manner, the 2017 legislative session limped to a close on midnight, May 22, and a special legislative session gaveled in at 12:01 AM. Legislators and the Governor reached an agreement to close the session by 7 AM on Wednesday, May 23, though that self-imposed deadline quickly passed with action on only two of the remaining six bills. In the wee hours of Friday morning, the legislature passed the Health and Human Services budget.  The budget proposal does not contain the cuts in physician reimbursement that earlier versions had included, and there are a number of MNAAP-supported elements in the bill.  Funding for nurse home visiting for at-risk young parents and pregnant women, child victims of sex trafficking, pediatric mental health services, foster care services for children "aging out" of the system, and additional funding for MDH to fight disease outbreaks, and other programming was included.  One of the chief criticisms of the bill is that it transfers over $350 million from the Health Care Access Fund (HCAF) - the source of funding for the MinnesotaCare program and, increasingly, Medical Assistance - to the General Fund.
     
  • Senior officials from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) briefed a key House health care committee about the measles outbreak on May 10.  The director of the MDH division with oversight of infectious diseases noted that while the outbreak continues to spread, there has also been a sharp uptick in the rate of immunizations being administered, particularly in the Somali community in Minneapolis.  Efforts by some legislators to expedite consideration of measures in response to the outbreak have not been successful, though there is increasing interest in revisiting Minnesota's law during the 2018 session.

  • Big Tobacco was a legislative winner in 2017, as the tax bill that awaits action from Governor Dayton includes several tax breaks the industry has long sought.  The provision of tax law that automatically raises the tobacco tax with the rise in inflation was repealed, and the cap on cigar taxes was shrunk by 85 percent.  While highly critical of the tobacco pieces, Governor Dayton is expected to sign the bill as part of a larger agreement to close the 2017 legislative session.

 

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