MN House Refuses to Stop "State Cookbook of Medicine"

(St. Paul, Minnesota) - The health care policy proposal that was never allowed to receive public testimony passed the Minnesota House today. The amendment to delete the section labeled "best practices" generated the bill's most passionate debate, but failed to win enough votes: 33 - 94.

HF 1681 requires state officials to determine what medical practices are "best" for all Minnesota patients. Physician adherence to the state list of "best practices" will be tracked and publicly reported, and financial penalties for failure to comply will be allowed.

"The House authorized the creation of a state government cookbook of medicine. Doctors will work for the government first, and patients second if this language is allowed to become law. It defies reason and violates rights," said Twila Brase, president, Citizens' Council on Health Care.

Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake) offered an amendment to delete the sections on "best practices," held up a large cookbook to emphasize his point, and asked for a roll call vote. The amendment failed 33 - 94. Rep. Olson immediately offered another amendment drafted by CCHC to require physicians and other health care providers to inform patients that the physician's treatment decisions may be unduly influenced by the "best practices" section of law. The amendment failed on a voice vote.

"Powerful special interests were at play today, and the little guy - patients and citizens - lost," said Brase.

According to a form letter email from the bill's author, Rep. Fran Bradley (R-Rochester), the "best practices" section of the legislation is supported by the Minnesota Medical Association, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Minnesota Hospital Association, and "and a wide variety of employer/provider/health plan/consumer groups."

Governor Tim Pawlenty also supports the legislation. In his February 5th State of the State address, he said his administration would "force health care providers to use best practices."

The Senate has similar language in Senate File 1760, which was heard today and passed in the Senate Health and Human Services and Corrections Budget Division.