Minnesota Hospital Association


March 06, 2017

MHA Newsline: March 6, 2017

In this issue

Don’t miss the chance to earn recognition for your hospital or health system

MHA Awards nominations due this Friday

MHA wants to honor your hospital or health system and caregivers for our 33rd annual awards program celebrating the outstanding work you do to deliver patient care and serve your communities

MHA award categories recognize excellence including community health, best workplace and patient care. Honors for individuals recognize trustees, volunteers, hospital executives, caregivers and public officials. Additional information on the categories and judging criteria can be found on MHA’s website.

Entries are due by Friday, March 10; find the entry form here: Nomination Form

MHA will notify all entrants whether they have won in mid-April. A reception and dinner will take place Friday, June 2, at the Metropolitan Ballroom in suburban Minneapolis. All MHA members and associate members are invited and encouraged to attend the awards ceremony. Mark your calendars and plan to join us for this celebration of excellence in Minnesota health care.

For more information, contact Sarah Bohnet, MHA visual communications specialist, 651-603-3494. return to top

MHA, members testify on reinsurance, mental health, public option bills

Mary Maertens, president and CEO of Avera Marshall and MHA board chair (pictured at right with her state senator, Sen. Gary Dahms), testified on Feb. 28 before the Senate Commerce Committee on a bill to create a reinsurance program in an effort to stabilize the individual market (SF 720, Dahms – R – Redwood Falls). The legislation created a new tax on hospitals to fund this reinsurance program. While this new tax may not collect any additional revenue above what the provider tax currently collects, MHA was concerned that establishing this new infrastructure would make it too easy for the tax to become the ongoing funding source for reinsurance. 

Maertens also stressed that money in the Health Care Access Fund should be used for its intended purpose, paying for coverage for low-income Minnesotans, particularly when Minnesota could lose up to $2 billion per year with pending changes to the Affordable Care Act.

The bill was next heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee where the committee amended the bill eliminating the new reinsurance tax and substituted the Health Care Access Fund as the funding source, allocating $180 million per year in FY 2018 and 2019. While MHA is concerned about the use of the Health Care Access Fund, it is a broader-based tax than the reinsurance tax would have been.

MHA thanks Mary Maertens for her advocacy on this issue, as well as the other hospital leaders who contacted senators with concerns.

Dr. Bruce Sutor of Mayo Clinic (pictured at right with Rep. Roz Peterson) testified in support of an MHA bill to create a mental health innovation grant fund by repurposing county health funding (HF 737, Peterson – R – Lakeville). Sutor stressed the importance of collaboration among hospitals, counties and community mental health centers to address local needs. The legislation passed and was laid over for possible inclusion in the House version of the omnibus health and human services finance bill.

MHA testified in opposition to legislation that requires a mental health patient under civil commitment to be admitted to a hospital for inpatient treatment if he or she misses a mandatory assisted outpatient mental health appointment or if the patient is not complying with medication as part of treatment. Kristin Loncorich, director of state government relations, MHA testified in opposition to this legislation in both the House and Senate. 

“This legislation removes a hospital physician’s clinical judgement from the decision about whether a person needs to be admitted and would require services be provided on an inpatient basis by an already stressed mental health system,” Loncorich said.

On the Senate side, the bill was referred without recommendation to the Judiciary Committee. On the House side, the bill was passed to the Public Safety Committee.

MHA testified in opposition to the governor’s public option legislation allowing anyone regardless of income level to purchase MinnesotaCare coverage. This provision is included in the governor’s budget proposal as a way to stabilize the individual market.

Mary Krinkie, vice president of government relations, MHA, testified that while MinnesotaCare may be an affordable option for individuals, it is because providers receive MinnesotaCare payment rates that are about half of the average commercial payment rate. This proposal could have the unintended consequence of hurting the small group market if individuals leave employer-sponsored health coverage for the lower-cost option of Minnesota Care.

With questions, contact Mary Krinkie, vice president of government relations, MHA, 651-659-1465, or Kristin Loncorich, director of state government relations, MHA, 651-603-3526.

Session bill tracker
For a complete list of 2017 legislative bills MHA is tracking, visit the MHA Member Center. For assistance accessing the Member Center, contact Emily Lowther, communications manager, MHA, 651-603-3495. return to top

Washington continues to focus on ACA repeal; details still uncertain

President Trump on Feb. 28 delivered his first speech before a joint session of Congress, focusing in part on the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He highlighted five principles for repeals, including providing new tax credits to help individuals purchase health insurance, expanding use of health savings accounts, allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, maintaining popular ACA provisions such as prohibiting insurers from discriminating against preexisting conditions, and providing states more flexibility over the Medicaid program.

Trump said, “Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country. … The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going to do.”

The House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are expected to consider legislation to repeal or repair the ACA on March 8. Few details and no legislative language about the revised Republican proposal have been released.

It has been reported that the revised draft will adjust the tax credits to buy insurance based on age and income, not just age as previously proposed. Higher-income individuals would not be eligible for the tax credits.

The revised bill, like the previously leaked legislation, would repeal all the ACA taxes that finance the ACA’s premium subsidies, Medicaid expansion and Medicare benefit enhancements. In their place, the bill would establish a new tax on employees for the value of generous employer health benefits. The tax would apply to plans at and above the 90th percentile of current premiums.

The revised bill maintains the provisions to convert Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to a program of capped federal payments to the states.

The revised proposal would modify the $100 billion in grant funding made available to states over a nine-year period, FYs 2018 to 2026, to implement insurance stabilization programs by creating a default reinsurance fund for states that fail to take advantage of the grants. Under the reinsurance provisions, which are like those included in the ACA, insurers would be reimbursed for expensive customers with medical claims that exceed $50,000, with a cutoff point of $350,000.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R – WI) wants the House committees to mark up and advance the ACA repeal bill this week and the House to approve the bill in the next three weeks, which would allow enough time for the Senate to consider and pass the repeal bill under the expedited reconciliation process before the Easter recess beginning in early April. Ryan’s schedule may be difficult to achieve since the revised bill has not been shared with House Democrats or members of the Senate.

MHA will continue to work with our hospital members and with the Minnesota congressional delegation to provide information on how the House Republican ACA repeal and replace draft legislation will impact Minnesota’s hospitals and their patients. Among MHA’s priorities is to maintain insurance coverage that provides coverage and access for all essential health care services. MHA seeks to ensure Minnesota hospitals and health systems can continue to provide high quality, low cost health care and continue to implement innovations to further improve care and reduce costs.

With questions, contact Briana Nord Parish, policy analyst, MHA, 651-603-3498, or Ben Peltier, vice president of legal and federal affairs, MHA, 651-603-3513. return to top

Honoring Choices advance planning partnership with hospitals continues

In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature made a one-time appropriation of funds to Honoring Choices Minnesota, a not-for-profit public health initiative of the Twin Cities Medical Society, to identify and collaborate with health care sites and communities in greater Minnesota in developing robust advance care planning (ACP) programs.

MHA distributed a letter of introduction to member hospitals around the state explaining the program and inviting interested sites to contact Honoring Choices. Staff from MHA and Honoring Choices performed sites visits to discuss the model and encourage health systems and communities to participate.

Seven projects are currently underway in Minnesota, with growing interest in future projects:

  • Aitkin and Crosby (joint project)
  • Ely
  • Faribault and Owatonna (joint project)
  • Luverne
  • Northfield
  • St. Luke’s Hospital, Duluth
  • Staples

Participating communities are able to address the critical need for advance care planning while promoting awareness among community members. Honoring Choices works with leaders in each community to design the right approach and strategies for successful implementation. Learn more about each project.

Honoring Choices’ work has informed The Convenings, a series of events designed to creatively engage communities around life’s big questions: how can we live meaningful lives, as fully as possible in spite of disease and disability until the end of our lives and how do we want that end to go? The next event will take place March 7 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church, 11115 Hanson Blvd., Coon Rapids. Visit The Convenings’ website to learn more, register for the March 7 event or find future events. return to top

Register for March 16 patient and family engagement webinar

Are you working to get a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) off the ground? Is your PFAC thriving or is it on life support? MHA will present a PFAC check-up webinar for patient and family engagement leaders and patient partners on March 16 from 11 a.m. – noon.

The responses to MHA’s recent PFAC survey will kick off a discussion around members’ successes and challenges in starting and managing PFACs. During the webinar, participants will also discuss PFAC project ideas, recruitment strategies, engaging leaders and staff in the PFAC, and what PFAC success looks like around the state.

This networking webinar of the MHA Community of Patient Partners is open to all leaders, staff and patient partners who are interested in PFAC implementation and management. Participants need to register in advance. To learn more, contact Joy Benn, quality and patient safety specialist, MHA, 651-659-1441. return to top