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Minnesota governor approves affordable health care measures via commerce omnibus

(The Center Square) – A new Minnesota law’s requirements for health insurers will protect residents’ access to preventative care, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

The department asserts that the law Gov. Tim Walz signed Wednesday will help keep families healthy and save them money.

The preventative health care provisions were part of the state’s omnibus commerce bill, which was part of the One Minnesota Budget. The final version of the bill, SF2744, passed the House 69-59 May 17 and the Senate 35-32 May 16.

“The department drafted the requirements months ago, anticipating recent federal court challenges that jeopardize no-cost preventive care guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act,” the release said. “The new law, modeled after the ACA, requires health insurers that are regulated by the state to continue to provide preventive services at no cost.”

Beginning in 2025, health plans must limit enrollee co-payments and coinsurance regarding prescription drugs for chronic diseases to no more than $25 per one-month supply for each prescription drug and $50 per month in total for all related medical supplies. The cost-sharing limit for related medical supplies does not increase with the number of chronic diseases for which an enrollee is treated. Chronic diseases are those that require the use of epinephrine auto-injectors.

Commissioner Grace Arnold said the department’s solutions are common sense.

“Common sense tells us, for instance, that charging for lung cancer screenings or screenings for conditions like gestational diabetes will put them out of reach for many hard-working families.”

The state will spend $136,000 for the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years for a feasibility study on a proposal to offer free primary care to Minnesotans; $105,000 each year to evaluate legislation on new mandated health benefits; $180,000 for additional staff for insurance products; $42,000 each year for ensuring health plan company compliance with state law; $25,000 each year to evaluate existing statutory health benefit mandates. These are all one-time appropriations.

The new law also forbids manufacturers from imposing an “excessive price increase” on the sale of a generic or off-patent drug for Minnesota consumers. An “excessive price increase” is defined as a more than 15% increase, adjusted for inflation, of the wholesale acquisition cost since the prior calendar year or a 40% increase of wholesale acquisition cost over the prior three years. The price increase can’t be more than $30 for a month’s supply of the drug or up to a month’s treatment course.

According to an American Cancer Society Action Network surveypublished May 11, 58% of 1,311 cancer patients and survivors said in April that they would be less likely to stay up to date with preventative care if they had to pay for it. For 28%, a fee of less than $100 would be a barrier to access preventative services. Seventy-five percent of Hispanic respondents said they would be less likely to stay current on preventative care. Nineteen percent of respondents have had to change providers due to a change in coverage.

Arnold said the department urges employers with federally regulated employee health plans to act to safeguard preventative health plans. Employer health plans can eliminate coverage for preventive care by providing two months’ notice, according to the release.

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