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Release: Rep. Morrison votes to approve HHS budget bill tackling high health care costs

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Tuesday, the Minnesota House passed the Health and Human Services supplemental finance bill. The proposal addresses the high health care costs Minnesotans are facing, along with solutions to attract, recruit, and retain dedicated professionals in fields such as direct care, long-term care, and behavioral health.

“This bill addresses our healthcare work force challenges and the lack of access to affordable health care that has long plagued many in our state,” said Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven), a practicing physician. “The pandemic exacerbated many of these challenges and deepened the disparities that already existed. Minnesotans need access to the care and prescription medication they need to have the opportunity to have healthy and thriving lives. This bill invests in strategies to help us close access gaps and address affordability.”

Recognizing the importance of getting infants, new mothers and families off to the best possible start, the bill includes Rep. Morrison’s provisions to offer universal voluntary home visiting in the prenatal and immediate postpartum period, and to ensure access to long acting reversible contraception after giving birth in a hospital for those who request it. 

To expand affordable health care access, the budget includes the MinnesotaCare Buy-In, an option allowing individuals and families to access MinnesotaCare – the low-cost, high-quality health care program that Minnesotans have trusted for 30 years. The legislation also makes care less expensive by eliminating cost barriers for those enrolled in Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. To prepare Minnesota for the future, the bill studies ways to reform health care delivery and financing.

Rep. Morrison has a key provision included in the budget that helps reduce the price of prescription drugs with creation of a commission to review and address drugs that are priced at levels that present an affordability challenge to patients and the health care system. The budget also includes a provision that updates and improves prescription drug reporting requirements related to 2020’s bipartisan Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, which Rep. Morrison also successfully passed into law. 

The legislation also includes caps on co-pays for insulin and other life-saving drugs, promotes the use of “biosimilars” to bring down the cost of expensive biologic drugs, and prohibits mid-year formulary changes.

To strengthen services for people with disabilities, the budget includes ongoing rate increases for the Personal Care Assistance and Community First Services and Supports programs. The budget also rebuilds Minnesota’s health care workforce through measures such as the Workforce Incentive Fund covering retention payments, post-secondary costs, transportation, and child care costs. There is a combination of strategies to support the behavioral health workforce, mental health workers, and community health workers, including grants, scholarships, and technical assistance. The legislation supports caring professionals through additional funding in the elderly waiver framework, and investments in training direct care workers through the creation of the Direct Care Service Corps.

The bill diversifies the health care workforce and includes several other steps aimed at eliminating the health disparities that exist in Minnesota. The bill includes funding to eliminate lead in schools, child care centers, and homes, funding to raise awareness about mercury in skin lightening creams, and support for Tribal health care providers. 

To better understand the impact of “long COVID,” the bill includes investments to raise awareness, develop guidance for its diagnosis, treatment, and care coordination in partnership with long COVID survivors and communities disproportionately impacted by it. Sustainable, increased funding is dedicated to rebuilding state and local public health infrastructure along with additional funding for the state Public Health Emergency Response Account.

The bill improves access to Medical Assistance for people with disabilities by fixing the discriminatory “spend-down” limit. It also includes investments to strengthen housing security, including funding for emergency shelter facilities and emergency services, the Homeless Youth Act, Safe Harbor for sexually exploited youth, and transitional housing.

Video of the floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.