Follow us on Twitter

MNAAP Newsletter

Legislative Season Fizzles: Vetoes Follow

Eric Dick headshotBy Erick Dick, MNAAP Lobbyist

Much of the 2018 legislative session’s long hours assembling budget supplemental bills was largely for naught, as the session’s end saw the speedy veto of one of the session’s biggest prizes: a supplemental budget package.

The veto means none of the hundreds of policy and spending provisions included in the near-1,000 page document will become law. With the veto of this bill, as well as a tax conformity bill sought by all parties, the 2018 session will be remembered as among the least productive in recent memory.

The Governor cited the bill’s omission of penalties on opioid manufacturers, anemic protections for those who live in assisted living and nursing facilities, and insufficient support for emergency aid for school districts, as key reasons for the veto.

Read more...Read More

Legislative Session to Begin Feb 20

Eric Dick headshotEric Dick, MNAAP Lobbyist

With the arrival of the New Year, the 2018 legislative session looms large in the front of legislators and advocates. The session, scheduled to start on February 20, promises to be chaotic and likely acrimonious.

The 2017 legislative session ended with the Governor line item vetoing the funding for the Legislature over a conflict over tax cuts, and that disagreement is likely to leave a mark on the 2018 session.

Read more...Read More

MNAAP Policy Committee Begins Agenda-Setting Work

Eric Dick headshotBy Eric Dick, MNAAP Lobbyist

While fall has only recently arrived, planning for the 2018 legislative session has begun in earnest with the first meeting of the MNAAP’s Policy Committee in late September. The 2018 session is slated to begin on February 20.

Despite the difficulty in predicting the issues that will dominate the action at the Capitol in 2018, some predictions can safely be made. As the second year of the biennium, the 2018 session will be dominated by debate on policy issues, rather than the budget-focused nature of the previous session.
Many Capitol veterans are predicting a session with very little substance. Though it’s a policy year, it’s also possible that legislators will have to address budget issues should tax revenue not meet projections. All too often, deficits have been “fixed” by cutting health care programming.

Read more...Read More

Threats to Children’s Health Care Abound

 

Eric Dick headshot

By Eric Dick, MNAAP Lobbyist 

The program that provides care to millions of America’s infants, children, and adolescents is under siege, and the threats come from multiple directions.  From Washington, D.C. to St. Paul to the boardrooms of major insurers, coverage for pediatric patients is under constant risk.

As of this writing in mid-July, legislation under consideration in the U.S. Congress remains a moving target. Solid intelligence about what is being included or left out of proposals is rare, and reports suggest that many different versions of these bills remain in play.

Read more...Read More

Legislative Update: 6,000 Bills and Counting

“When they come back, the real work begins,” said Gov. Mark Dayton as legislators began the Easter/Passover break on April 10.
Despite being almost three quarters complete (as of this writing in mid-April), the most difficult and consequential pieces of the 2017 legislative session yet remain. While almost 6,000 bills have been introduced in both houses of the legislature this session, the year’s most important task – crafting a two year biennial budget – remains on legislators’ “to do” list.
Both the House and Senate have passed budgets that fund state government, including the Health and Human Service (HHS) programs. As is always the case with budget bills that span more than 700 pages, there are pieces that the MNAAP can strongly support, and there are elements that we forcefully oppose.

Most directly, the Senate HHS funding proposals cuts physician reimbursement for services provided under MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance by 2.3% in 2017 and by 3% in 2019. The House takes a slightly different approach, counting on new client eligibility verification tools and efforts to reduce hospital readmissions to save state resources. Should these mechanisms not create the savings the authors intend, reimbursement to physicians and other providers would be cut by up to $204 million. These cuts, on top of Minnesota’s already anemic payment rates, represent a real threat to continued access to care for Minnesota’s most needy children and families.

There are bright spots in the budget bills. Both the House and Senate include funding for several MNAAP priorities.

Eric Dick headshotChildren’s mental health receives significant attention, with funding for school-linked mental health grants, text-based suicide prevention programming, and support for first episode psychosis training.

Minnesota’s yawning racial and economic health disparities also receive some attention with funding included for nurse home visiting programs for prenatal and postpartum follow-up for at-risk parents, another MNAAP priority.

The House and Senate both fund the Safe Harbor program, an effort to prevent child sex trafficking while supporting victims.
Foster families also receive support via several programs that aim to assist foster children who are not adopted.

When session began, there were real concerns that the MNAAP would be forced to play defense to preserve hard-fought wins on a number of issues, as well as preventing dangerous proposals from becoming law. There are legislators at the Capitol who seek to roll back the newborn screening program, repeal a minor’s ability to receive health care in certain limited instances without parental consent, and make Minnesota’s already-weak immunization law even weaker. And while harmful bills regarding some of these issues were introduced, I’m happy to report that none of these proposals gained traction this session.

The end of session is now in sight, as the Minnesota Constitution mandates that the session end no later than midnight on May 22. If you haven’t already contacted your elected officials to share your perspective on these important issues, now is the time to do so.

Legislators do want to hear from you, and your voice as a pediatrician is amongst the most credible and powerful.

1 2