Quote of the Week: "I don’t think a war of words necessarily gets us closer to resolution, though I have plenty of words that I have privately uttered about the Minority Leader's position!” House Speaker Melissa Hortman when asked about Minority Leader Kurt Daudt’s statement that House Republicans wouldn’t allow a bonding bill to pass unless Governor Walz reopens Minnesota.
NAIFA-Minnesota achieved success this week with the inclusion of its 2020 legislative priority in the omnibus HHS policy bill. NAIFA’s proposal is tucked away in the larger policy bill, S.F. 3560. Under the NAIFA proposal, effective August 1, health care providers must release medical records within 30 calendar days upon the written request of the patient. The proposal is in response to providers taking weeks or even months to release medical records. Insurance agents seeking to sell a life, disability or long-term care policy need the release of the medical records so that insurance companies can review the patient’s medical history when they apply for a policy.
The NAIFA proposal was opposed by Minnesota’s hospitals and medical records companies, but the focused efforts of NAIFA members across the State in communicating with their legislators made this victory possible. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday and the House is expected to pass it and send it to the Governor next week. Congrats to NAIFA members and THANK YOU to everyone who responded to grassroots calls to action. Your emails and phone calls made the difference!
One Week To Go
The 2020 regular legislative session is scheduled to adjourn in 10 days on Monday, May 18. This session has been unlike any in history, with a multi-week recess because of the COVID pandemic, followed by a budget forecast showing a net loss of $4 billion (see below). Session began with a short list of “must do” bills – bonding. But legislative responses to COVID and the revised budget forecast changed everything. In the coming days, legislators and the Governor still hope to reach agreement to pass a bonding bill, but they will not agree on a list of “political” bills each body will pass with an eye toward November.
COVID Kills Budget Surplus and Prompts Special Session
The State’s $1.5 billion projected budget surplus projected just months ago has vanished because of the economy-crushing COVID virus and Minnesota now faces a projected $2.4 billion deficit. An updated budget forecast was released on Tuesday by Minnesota Management and Budget leaders, who said that state revenue was expected to be $3.6 billion less than expected and spending $391 million higher. The State Constitution requires a balanced budget, so legislators and the Governor will have to take steps to get the current budget back into balance. Minnesota has $2.4 billion in its budget reserve, but spending cuts are still expected because not all of the budget reserve can be spent. Governor Walz is expected to call the special session for June 12.