Quote of the Week: “I’m too confused to even form a question!” Rep. Joe Schomacker after an explanation of MA drug rebates by DHS Pharmacy Director Chad Hope.
“Big Picture” Issues
Biden Wins Minnesota’s Super Tuesday Primary
Minnesota joined 14 other states and territories on Tuesday in holding a presidential primary. The election was the first primary contest for president and resulted in turnout tripling from the 2016 presidential caucus. Nearly 750,000 Minnesotans voted in the Democratic primary and about 140,000 voted in the Republican primary, which allowed only President Trump to be on the ballot. Former Vice President Joe Biden won 39% of the votes, followed by Senator Bernie Sanders with 29%. Sanders easily won the 2016 caucus over former Senator Hilary Clinton and had been expected to do better in 2020. Biden’s win followed an overwhelming primary victory in South Carolina and the endorsement of Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who dropped out of the presidential race days before the Minnesota primary.
House Passes Family and Medical Leave Bill Again
The House on Thursday passed HF0005 (Halverson, DFL-Eagan), a bill that provides up to 12 weeks of extended paid leave after giving birth or if care is needed for a sick family member. The bill is a priority for DFLers, who passed it last session, only to see it rejected by the GOP Senate. Business groups and Republicans have raised concerns about the bill’s cost. Individuals are currently allowed to take 12 weeks off following a child’s birth under federal law, but that time is unpaid. H.F. 5 would allow a worker to receive a percentage of their wages while taking time off for giving birth, adopting a child or to care for a sick family member. Multiple states have passed similar bills and President Trump signed a 12 week paid leave for federal employees into law in December. Expect to see campaign mailings in the Fall from DFLers touting the bill and attacking Republicans for their opposition.
NAIFA Bill Advances!
On Thursday, the Senate HHS Finance and Policy Committee heard and approved S.F. 3488 (Dahms, R-Redwood Falls), NAIFA’s 2020 legislative priority. The bill requires health care providers to release medical records to patient’s authorized representatives within 15 business days of receiving a written request. The bill was introduced in response to health care providers failing to release records in a timely manner, causing insurers to withdraw contingent life, disability and long-term care coverage because they couldn’t review an applicant’s medical records. Current Minnesota law only requires providers to issue medical records “promptly.”
Corey Anderson, NAIFA-Minnesota's VP of Advocacy, testified in support of the bill. He told Committee members that passage of the bill will help consumers get the insurance coverage they need for themselves and their families. Anderson also said the bill will prevent individuals going on public assistance because they were unable to obtain a policy and subsequently lacked the financial resources to pay for a nursing home or other needed care. The bill was opposed by Siox Health, who testified that the bill would be a burden to providers. A motion to extend the 15 business days to 30 calendar days was adopted. The amended bill was referred to the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.
NAIFA-Minnesota appreciates the Committee members that voted for the bill and especially Committee Chair Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), who scheduled the bill for the hearing. We also greatly appreciate Senator Dahms for his work in carrying the bill. Finally, THANK YOU to all the NAIFA-Minnesota members who contacted their Committee members to voice support for the bill. Individual voices can have an impact at the Capitol and when NAIFA-Minnesota members speak in unison, they are powerful! We will need that power in future Senate and House hearings in the coming weeks.