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Health panel considers bill creating state board to address high health care costs

(House Photography file photo)
(House Photography file photo)

The list of those affected by rapidly growing health care costs is long and includes, well, just about everybody.

Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth) sponsors HF4430 that would establish a state board to monitor health care costs, set targets to limit those costs, and step in to issue fines if those targets are exceeded.

She said nine states have already adopted similar legislation, and that Massachusetts saved $9 billion in health care costs over a five-year period.

“It’s very encouraging to see other states being very successful with this,” she said. “I would like Minnesota to join those other states to address our high costs of health care and make health care more affordable for people across the state.”

The House Health Finance and Policy Committee laid the bill over, as amended, Friday for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

The bill would require the Legislative Coordinating Commission to establish a Health Care Affordability Board “to protect consumers, state and local governments, health plan companies, providers, and other health care system stakeholders from unaffordable health care costs.”

The 13-member board of health care experts appointed by the governor and the Legislature would monitor the administration and reform of health care delivery and payments systems in the state and be charged with:

  • setting health care spending and growth targets for the state;
  • enhancing provider organization transparency;
  • monitoring the adoption and effectiveness of alternative payment methodologies;
  • fostering innovative health care delivery and payment models;
  • monitoring and reviewing the impact of health care marketplace changes; and
  • monitoring patient access to necessary health care services.

The bill would also require the governor to appoint a Health Care Affordability Advisory Council to advise the board on health care cost and access issues and represent the views of patients and other stakeholders.

The board itself would decide which health care entities would be within its jurisdiction, Schultz said. “Very small groups would not be included.”

A health care entity that exceeded its health care cost targets and failed to develop a “performance improvement plan” to reduce them would be subject to a fine of up to $500,000, Schultz said.

Rep. Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) asked how imposing such a large fine would help entities lower health care costs.

Schultz said the fine would only be levied as a last resort, and that the penalty could be easily avoided by submitting a plan “in good faith” within 45 days of being asked by the board to do so.

The bill would also require the board to establish an Office of Patient Protection to assist consumers with issues related to access and quality of care and advise the Legislature on ways to reduce consumer health care spending and improve consumer experience by reducing complexity for consumers.

Yet-to-be determined appropriations would be requested in fiscal year 2023 for the Health Care Affordability Board to perform its duties and to the Department of Health to provide technical assistance to the board.

Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington) sponsors the companion bill, SF4353, which awaits action by the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.

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