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Health policy omnibus

Published (4/10/2009)
By Patty Ostberg
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What was a technical bill turned into the omnibus health care and human services policy bill that was approved April 2 by the House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls), the committee chairman, HF1760 initially included technical changes to continuing care for aging and adult services. Thissen successfully amended in additional provisions, including: changes to newborn screening, health care provider reporting to licensing board changes, prescription expiration dates moved from two years to one year, changes to Doula services definitions, modifications to safe patient handling in clinical settings and the establishment of a working group to study nursing staffing levels when adverse health care events occur.

A companion, SF1526, sponsored by Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), awaits action by the full Senate. It includes only continuing care changes.

Thissen said many of the provisions were in separate bills approved by the committee, and “instead of hearing 17 bills on the floor” the omnibus bill was created.

Under the bill, the collection of genetic information from newborns would be exempt from written informed consent. Opponents have said allowing DNA to be taken from newborns without the consent of parents is a violation of privacy.

Doula services would be defined as “continuous emotional and physical support throughout labor and birth, and intermittently during the prenatal and postpartum periods.”

Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague) said some of the added changes are controversial, particularly the newborn screening language. “Turning a technical bill into a controversial vehicle I think is really an unfortunate thing,” she said. Brod unsuccessfully moved to strike the newborn screening changes from the bill.

“We’ve had full debate on every single one of these bills,” Thissen responded.

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