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Affordability, abortion access addressed in $7.1 billion omnibus health bill

Countless Minnesotans are priced out of proper health care.

On top of that, even when patients can afford care, there are massive health disparities that primarily hurt people of color.

Sixty-three bills rolled into one, HF2930 seeks to change myriad things, including requiring medical assistance to cover medically necessary abortions.

Sponsored by Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), the omnibus health finance and policy bill would appropriate about $7.1 billion over the 2024-25 biennium, of which more than $6.2 billion would go to the Department of Human Services and almost $909.9 million to the Department of Health.

On Tuesday, the House Health Finance and Policy Committee received a walkthrough of the bill and its 508-page delete-all amendment. The final product is scheduled to be adopted Thursday.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

The bill proposes repealing numerous rules and requirements surrounding reproductive health care, some of which have already been found unconstitutional by Minnesota courts.

One bill stipulation would guarantee pregnant people at least one designated support person with them during doctor visits and other medical procedures.

Insurance changes

Beyond abortion care, one of the biggest policy modifications would consist of MinnesotaCare removing its income requirement to create a “public option” for coverage.

To circumvent insurance, the bill would establish a direct payment system for MinnesotaCare and medical assistance, terminating managed care contracts in lieu of a fee-for-service reimbursement.

Further, the bill would carve-out prescription drugs from managed care contracts and the state would pay pharmacies directly.

And for those struggling to afford prescriptions, the bill would limit enrollee cost-sharing for both public and private insurance.

Originally part of a bill that would have eliminated cost-sharing from all insurance, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance would be eliminated from medical assistance.

Designed to expand choices for medical assistance enrollees, eligible individuals may even be able to opt out of managed care altogether.

If in need of additional testing after a mammogram, the bill has patients covered because it would bar cost-sharing for supplemental diagnostic services.

Human services appropriations

Among the human services provisions that would receive substantial funding during the 2024-25 biennium are:

  • $435.9 million for housing support grants;
  • $265.8 million for adult mental health grants;
  • $149.8 million for MinnesotaCare;
  • $143 million for technical activities;
  • $126.5 million for general assistance;
  • $118.2 million for Minnesota Supplemental Aid; and
  • $93.6 million for child mental health grants.

The bill has numerous notable smaller appropriations, including $10 million in fiscal year 2024 for workplace safety grants, specifically for health care entities and human services providers, and $659,000 to establish a dental home pilot program to increase dental care access for medical assistance and MinnesotaCare enrollees.

Health appropriations

The bill would establish an Office of African American Health to address unique needs and health disparities Black Minnesotans face, appropriating approximately $4.4 million for it.

Likewise, an Office of American Indian Health would be established to coordinate with tribal nations and craft public health strategies to achieve health equity. The office would receive slightly less funding at about $4.2 million.

Amid the other health appropriations are:

  • $57.2 million for MNsure;
  • $34.2 million for public health system transformation;
  • $24.8 million for public health emergency preparedness and response;
  • $23.9 million to ensure healthy outcomes for children and families;
  • $4.5 million for equity in HIV prevention; and
  • $500,000 in fiscal year 2024 for the Emmett Louis Till Victims Recovery Program.

Other bill provisions

In addition to approximately $23.1 million proposed in funding, the “Keep Nurses at the Bedside Act” would require hospitals to establish a hospital nurse staffing committee and a hospital nurse workload committee to address staffing plans and concerns.

Supporters of universal health need not hold their breath; however, a proposed analysis of such a system could educate lawmakers on the benefits and costs.

Any funds from Minnesota’s vape lawsuit, or any other legal action involving electronic nicotine delivery systems, would go to a tobacco use prevention account.


What’s in the bill?

The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus health finance and policy bill:

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