Senate Republicans pass health care reform legislation

Senate Republicans passed a series of bipartisan bills that fulfill their promises to reform health care through increased transparency, access, and affordability. The reform bills were passed with virtually unanimous support. The comprehensive approach focuses on health care facility fee disclosure to patients, transparency in hospital billing practices, direct primary care arrangements, and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) licensure and reform. The Senate passed the series of bills as separate, individual proposals.

“Minnesotans have been clear that they expect the legislature to pass major reforms to increase affordability in health care,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa). “And, these bills do that. We are not nipping around the edges, nor are we just throwing money at the problem. These are major reforms, new solutions, and all have bipartisan support.”

Senate Republicans have prioritized passing health care bills as individual, standalone pieces of legislation early in the legislative session to ensure quick passage into law. This practice avoids large omnibus bills that often contain multiple subjects. Currently, the Minnesota Senate has 44 individual health care related bills awaiting action on the Senate floor. In comparison, the Minnesota House of Representatives has 28 health care related bills awaiting consideration on the House floor.

“We are passing these as standalone bills because they are important to get done as soon as possible, and we should not wait until the end of session negotiations to pass them,” said Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. “Senate Committees have worked hard to pass a variety of solutions, and now we’re turning to our budget. These bills collectively are inexpensive, and both bodies should pass them to the Governor today.”

Highlights of the bipartisan legislation include:

  • Reinsurance (SF 761 – Dahms)– Passed by the Senate on a bipartisan 37-28 vote, the legislation renews Minnesota’s highly successful program signed into law in 2017 by Governor Mark Dayton that lowered health insurance rates for Minnesotans on the individual market by at least 20 percent.
  • Health care facility fee disclosure (SF 131 – Draheim) – Passed unanimously by the Senate, the bill requires provider-based clinics to disclose facility fees to patients that may result in higher out-of-pocket costs. The facility must also post this information in visible locations and on their website.
  • Hospital billing transparency (SF 13 – Draheim) – Passed overwhelmingly by the Senate on a bipartisan vote, the bill requires hospitals to provide patients an itemized description of their billed health care charges within 30 days of discharge.
  • Direct primary care (SF 277 – Jensen) – Passed unanimously by the Senate, the bipartisan bill creates a framework for a flexible, new way for doctors and patients to work together without insurance middlemen.
  • Minnesota Pharmacy Benefit Manager Licensure and Regulation Act (SF 278 – Jensen) – Passed unanimously by the Senate, the bipartisan legislation aims to increase transparency and affordability in pharmaceuticals.
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