Quote of the Week: “Representative Munson, I think it’s the opposite of what you’re saying!” Non-partisan staffer responding to a statement by Rep. Jeremy Munson in Committee.
NAIFA Bill Scheduled for Monday in Senate
NAIFA’s 2020 legislative priority bill is scheduled to be heard on Monday, March 16 in the Senate. The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee is scheduled to hear S.F. 3488 (Dahms, R-Redwood Falls). The bill requires health care providers to release medical records to patient’s authorized representatives within 30 calendar 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.”
Will Minnesota follow the example of Illinois, Texas and other state legislatures that have adjourned early due to the coronavirus? This week found a rapidly growing number of legislators suggesting that as an option. Governor Walz on Thursday said that the Legislature should pass a bonding bill a few other priority items and then “go back home.”
The House canceled three committee hearings scheduled for Friday, including HHS Policy, while none were scheduled in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Gazelka and Minority Leader Kent released a statement on Thursday announcing restrictions on access to Senate offices. Some legislators are telling their staff to stay home and away from the Capitol, where hundreds of visitors continue to show up daily where they pack into crowded hearing rooms, elevators and hallways. Governor Walz on Friday released an Executive Order declaring an emergency in Minnesota.
Session may end abruptly after the passage of a bonding bill, it could recess for a month and reconvene in late April or just keep plowing forward. Be flexible, because nothing is certain.
Coronavirus Spreading in Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Health on Friday announced five new cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, adding to the four new cases added on Thursday. This brings the total number of Minnesota cases to 14. All were infected while traveling or by contact with someone who had traveled. Political, health care, business and other leaders are increasingly concerned about the spread of the virus. As of Thursday morning, only 5% of the State’s intensive care hospital beds were open and about 3% of the State’s med-surg beds were available. National public health experts on Friday were predicting 1 million deaths nationally from the virus, which would translate to nearly 20,000 deaths in Minnesota.