At the mid-point of the 2018 legislative session, MMA lobbyists are optimistic that the association’s top two priorities will be accomplished.
The priorities – supporting patients’ access to affordable prescription drugs and reducing the harm of opioids – remain very much on legislator’s minds. MMA-led efforts to prevent health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from placing restrictions on pharmacist’s ability to tell patients that paying cash for a prescription may be cheaper than using their insurance benefit has moved through both the House and Senate.
Other bills to ensure that patients have access to drugs at their lowest possible cost have moved through one or both bodies, as has an MMA-supported effort to ease the ways in which a physician can seek an override of a health plan’s step therapy requirement. These proposals appear to be in a strong position for passage.
Lawmakers continue to debate the opioid epidemic at the Capitol. While the funding source remains an open question, it seems very likely that new dollars will be devoted to reducing opioid’s harms.
Legislators have been very supportive of the MMA’s call for embedding the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP) into electronic health records. They’ve also been supportive of devoting resources to help educate prescribers and patients, as well as fund new addiction treatment. The MMA has cautioned legislators against bills that would mandate CME for opioid prescribing and dose limits.
In addition to the two priorities, the MMA has devoted resources to several other issues at the Legislature. MMA lobbyists have advocated for passage of legislation to enact the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to ease the process of licensure in multiple states, and have lobbied against efforts to expand physical therapists’ scope of practice. They have also opposed the push to enact work requirements on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare enrollees.
While dozens of bills have moved through the committee process by the mid-session Easter/Passover break, very few bills have yet to make it to the governor’s desk for consideration. More than half of the work yet to be completed before the session concludes in late May.