Seven More Days! What YOU can DO to Protect Health Freedom

Every day the MN legislature is in session your money and liberty are at risk. There are only seven days left, but do not breathe easy. The end-of-session pressure adds to the risk.

CCHF's efforts at the legislature are empowered by your engagement. We watch, we testify, we lobby, we report—but then YOU act. Legislators in the dizzying pace of session often take note and turn the tide on an issue IF their constituents call and email them.

So, to protect your freedom, please use YOUR VOICE to help us protect your right to decide WHO can see, use, share, and analyze your medical, genetic, and mental health data. Also, help us stop a big-government slush fund, a new big-business bureaucracy, and ongoing access to, and analysis of, private medical-claims data by state health officials.

With only seven days left, the only way to protect your freedom, your rights and your pocketbook is to act now. This email contains a number of time-sensitive legislative updates as well as several action options for you

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REPEAL OF PATIENT CONSENT?

The good news: because you took action last week, the MN legislature did not hand over your private medical records to big government, big business and the big data industry. SF 3019 and the two proposed amendments to repeal MN's privacy law (authors Zerwas and Schomacker) were pulled from the House floor debate/vote schedule. THANK YOU.

The bad news: we've heard there will be a last-ditch attempt this week to eliminate patient consent requirements—and the health freedom that patient privacy protects. (FYI: He who holds the data makes the rules.) SF 3019 and the amendments could be rescheduled.

TAKE ACTION: If you haven't called AND emailed your state representative yet, please do so now. (The link to find their name and phone/email) There is no time to waste! Legislators are forced to listen when they hear from their own constituents! Thank you to everyone who contacted legislators last week - please do so again to keep the pressure up!

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TUESDAY VOTE - BIG GOVERNMENT DATABASE (SF 2675)

In 2008, the controversial All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) was created, forcing insurers to send patient data to the state health department from every treatment, medication, and procedure covered by insurance. Your data is accessed and used by researchers, government, and others—without your consent. State use of this data to conduct research and analysis was scheduled to end in July 2019, but bills to permit ongoing (permanent) state analysis of costs, quality, trends and use of services have passed in committees.

While CCHF would like to repeal the APCD, and testified against this bill, the better House bill limits MDH access through 2025 and exempts self-insured companies from the reporting requirements as per a 2016 Supreme Court decision. The troubling Senate bill, which does not exempt self-insured companies and would permit ongoing (permanent) MDH data analysis, passed unanimously in the Senate. 

TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION: The troubling Senate bill has been scheduled for a vote on the House floor on TOMORROW, Tuesday, May 15. Ask your MN state representative to vote against Senate File (SF) 2675 when it comes up on the floor of the House tomorrow.

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FINAL NEGOTIATIONS ON "GARBAGE BILL" (SF 3656)

The House and Senate are meeting in conference committee to decide what language is included in the "omnibus omnibus" bill, also known as the Omnibus Supplemental Finance bill (SF 3656). In the final hours and final behind-the-scene negotiations, anything could be added or edited, including langauge repealing patient consent rights.

This "omnibus omnibus" or "garbage bill" is a combination of more than ten omnibus bills (e.g. transportation, education, higher ed, environment, agriculture, health and human services, etc) bundled together into a single bill containing both policy and financing. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill are being sorted out in the conference committee, but surprise language, that wasn't part of either bill, can also sometimes emerge out of negotiations.

Good things about the bill:
Provider Tax: Neither the House nor the Senate version include language repealing the sunset (repeal) of the provider tax (also known as the "sick tax"). Language to repeal the tax in 2019 was passed back in 2010, but Democrats want to repeal the repeal. That attempt won't happen this year. MinnesotaCare: Neither bill includes language to expand MNcare to the middle class with a "buy in" option subsidized with taxpayer money. Prohibits Gag Orders: Pharmacists would be free to disclose to patients that the cash price of the medication is cheaper than if they use insurance. Affordable Coverage: The bill includes House language expanding how long a person can keep a short-term, limited-duration health insurance from 60 days (current) to 12 months (what it used to be).

Concerns about the bill:
Prescription Surveillance: The Senate version includes opioid and PMP policy changes to mandate use of the prescription monitoring program and charge doctors to use it. This is a bad idea because it further embeds a government surveillance system into the private practice of medicine. As doctors collect and report ever-more surveillance data to the government, patients may begin to perceive doctors as adversaries rather than advocates. Big-Business Bureaucracy: The Senate also includes the industry-controlled Health Policy Commission which will drive the industry's health care policy initiatives, all paid for by taxpayer dollars. Slush Fund: The House version expands the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH) "health disparities" slush fund by an additional $613,000. MDH asked for this money on top of their $2 million/year appropriation even though they failed to issue a required report in February itemizing how this annual $2 million (since 2005) is spent.

TAKE ACTION TODAY: Email all Senate and House conferees telling them about whatever you like or dislike about these "good things" and "concerns." Also urge them not to add any language eliminating or changing your patient consent rights to the omnibus HHS bill (now included in the omnibus omnibus bill). NOTE: the language to eliminate your privacy and consent rights is NOT in the bill right now. You are just asking them to make sure it does not get added to the bill. CLICK HERE to find out who represents you and contact info.

Senate Conferees:
Julie Rosen | sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn
Michelle Benson | sen.michelle.benson@senate.mn
Mary Kiffmeyer | sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn
Warren Limmer | sen.warren.limmer@senate.mn
Scott Newman | sen.scott.newman@senate.mn

House Conferees:
Jim Knoblach | rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn
Jennifer Loon | rep.jennifer.loon@house.mn
Paul Torkelson | rep.paul.torkelson@house.mn
Patrick Garafalo | rep.pat.garafalo@house.mn
Gene Pelowski | rep.gene.pelowski@house.mn

If you have any questions about any of these topics, please give us a call or send us an email and we would be happy to provide further explanation.

Thank you for taking action!

Matt Flanders
CCHF Legislative Specialist