Communications: Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update

Friday, March 16, 2018   (0 Comments)
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The legislature is two weeks in and the MAFP has been busy keeping an eye on developments on behalf of our members and patients. Many big issues are being discussed—federal tax conformity, elder abuse, the opioid epidemic, gun violence—but action on any bills related to these topics has been slow. Bills must be heard in committee by March 22 or they will not move forward. It was great to see so many family physicians at this week’s Day at the Capitol. Thank you for showing up to advocate for your patients!

Pharmacy Benefit Manager legislation introduced (Action requested – just a minute or two of your time – we promise)
Thank you to those of you that responded to our action alert and encouraged your legislators to push for committee hearings on legislation that would encourage transparency and accountability for PBMs. The legislation includes:

  • HF 2597/SF 2950 – Requires PBMs to annually report the amount of money they receive from drug companies in the form of rebates and where that money goes.
  • HF 747/SF 593 – Prohibits PBMs from switching a patient's drug therapy during the contract year once the patient has started their treatment.
  • HF 3010/SF 2599 – Outlaws PBMs from implanting gag clauses on pharmacists that prohibit them from telling a patient that there may be a cheaper alternative to the covered drug
  • HF 3011/SF 2598 – Prohibits a PBM from requiring a patient to get their prescription filled at a pharmacy owned by the PBM

MAFP will continue to advocate for legislation that helps patients have access to their medications and reduces the administrative burden on physicians. If you haven’t already done so, please contact your legislator today!

Opioid Awareness Day at the Capitol
Thursday March 1st was Opioid Awareness Day at the Capitol – an event intended to encourage legislators to pass the Opioid Stewardship bill (SF 730/HF 1440). The stewardship bill would fund programs to make the Prescription Monitoring Program easier to use by embedding it in the electronic health record, to provide more education to prescribers and the public on appropriate opioid use, and to create pilot projects designed to reduce opioid abuse. These programs would be funded by an assessment on opioid manufacturers.

Testimony was heard on two bills—the Stewardship bill and a bill to limit the suggested dose of opioids to a seven-day supply for the treatment of acute pain (HF 3019—Franke, (R) St. Paul Park). Both bills were laid over without a vote.

The MAFP board of directors met with the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Michelle Benson last week and discussed the opioid crisis and the front-line role that family physicians often play in dealing with opioid dependency. The board encouraged her to support the Stewardship Bill specifically and for resources around greater public awareness and increase addiction treatment and support.

Gun Violence Prevention
The MAFP released a press statement on Monday in response to the board of directors vote to lend our voice to the powerful statement identifying gun violence as a public health epidemic by the MMA and in support of MAFP member Senator Scott Jensen participation in a bi-partisan group of senators to release legislation calling for universal background checks.

Prior to that development, two bills received hearings in the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee, but both were tabled without a final vote. HF 1669, would enhance background checks conducted as part of the purchase of a firearm. HF 1605 would allow individuals to seek a “gun violence protection order” allowing law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms owned by individuals who may be a risk to themselves or others. Both bills are authored by Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul). It is unlikely that the bills will be discussed in committee again during this session.

Minnesota Health Records Act Reform Bill Gets First Hearing
On March 8, the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee heard and passed HF 3312 to modernize the Minnesota Health Records Act and bring state law into alignment with the federal HIPAA standard. A broad coalition of advocates for the bill, including the MMA, the Minnesota Hospital Association, the Council of Health plans, numerous patient advocacy groups, the Chamber of Commerce, and others have lobbied in support of the bill, arguing that it will make care coordination easier, reduce redundant testing and imaging, and allow for innovation in payment models. MAFP has recently joined the coalition in support of these efforts.

Tobacco 21 Press Conference
On March 8 a bipartisan group of Representatives held a press conference announcing the introduction of legislation to raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21. HF 3532 would create a statewide purchasing age of 21. This follows the work of several local communities that have raised the age through local ordinance. The author of the bill, Rep. Dario Anselmo (R-Edina) said it is time to pass this for the entire state to reduce the number of teenage smokers. The Senate author is Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester). It is unlikely the bill will get heard this year. MAFP continues to be a part of the Minnesotans for a Smoke Free Generation working on tobacco 21 efforts at the city and county level.

MAFP Advocacy Survey (Action requested – less than a minute of your time)
We are interested in your thoughts and idea around advocacy and the role you want the Academy to play in ensuring a voice for family physicians. What issues matter most to you? Please take our quick survey to provide us your feedback.


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