Minnesota Hospital Association


March 20, 2017

MHA Newsline: March 20, 2017

In this issue

MHA does not support the AHCA

MHA released a statement March 15 on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The statement emphasized that Minnesotans have benefited from the opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to access health care coverage, including expanded Medicaid access and an enhanced MinnesotaCare program. Minnesota is now among the top five states for insurance coverage, with only 4 percent of residents uninsured.

The AHCA in its current form would cut the federal funding that supports the Medicaid expansion and this year funded nearly 90 percent of MinnesotaCare. Thousands of Minnesotans would lose access to meaningful health care coverage, with a sizeable new funding burden falling on the state.

MHA places emphasis on preserving health care coverage for low-income Minnesotans and wants Minnesotans to have meaningful insurance coverage for all essential health care services. We cannot support a return to a system that increases our rate of uninsured; re-creates a reliance on the emergency room; and discourages preventive care, mental health care, routine screenings and other health care throughout a person’s lifetime.

We agree that the ACA is in need of improvement; however, the AHCA is not a solution that will benefit our state or its residents. MHA cannot support the AHCA. We are committed to assisting policymakers in discussing health care legislation that will preserve meaningful health care coverage for Minnesotans.

Read the full statement. return to top

FirstLight Health System inspires well kids

In recent years, FirstLight Health System has taken a particular interest in helping kids in Mora, Pine City, Hinckley and Ogilvie become healthier. FirstLight introduced this concept through a community wellness program called WellnessFirst, which has been inspiring kids to become healthier by teaching them healthy habits including good nutrition and physical activity.

WellnessFirst has one mission in mind: to help create a culture of health in the community, where members are actively engaged in improving their health. This diverse program was formed to create healthy new initiatives; facilitate sustainable, positive change through collaboration and partnership with other organizations; and provide education on wellness topics to all age groups.

Since the inception of the WellnessFirst program in 2012, a need to improve the health of area students emerged from a review of community and school survey results, and eventually a strong partnership with area schools developed. The health and wellness of students became a top priority for WellnessFirst and efforts to reach this population became integrated into its mission. Using a preventative framework of healthy eating and increased physical activity, efforts to create programs that would inspire kids to become healthier took shape. 

Visit the MHA website to learn more and read the full 2016 Community Benefit Report. return to top

MHA, members testify on mental health, investment, mandated benefit set bills

Legislation to allow public hospitals to invest funds in a variety of investments similarly to Minnesota’s nonprofit hospitals advanced in the Senate last week. Randy Ulseth, CEO of FirstLight Health System in Mora and Larry Ortloss, board member of Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria, testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. The bill (SF 341, Ingebrigtsen – R – Alexandria) advanced to the Senate floor. The House companion bill (HF 559, Franson – R – Alexandria) advanced to the House floor as well. MHA encourages public hospitals to contact their legislators in support of these bills.

Legislation to eliminate Minnesota’s mandated benefit set, allowing individuals to purchase “customized” plans (HF 2026, Drazkowski – R – Mazeppa), was tabled in the House Commerce Committee. MHA along with NAMI Minnesota and the American Cancer Society Minnesota provided testimony in opposition to the bill.

“Minnesota hospitals and health systems have been supportive of an inclusive set of benefits that encourages prevention, screenings, mental health and chemical dependency treatment, and primary care, as well as hospitalization,” said Mary Krinkie, vice president of government relations, MHA. “These benefits encourage health and reduce reliance on emergency rooms as the point of access to care. ‘Skinny plans,’ as they are sometimes called, will increase out-of-pocket, unexpected costs for consumers, as well as uncompensated care for hospitals.”

Dr. Bruce Sutor of Mayo Clinic testified in support of an MHA bill to create a mental health innovation grant fund by repurposing county funding that currently goes into the general fund (SF 564, Rosen – R – Vernon Center). 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 Senate version of the omnibus health and human services finance bill. The House companion bill (HF 737, Peterson – R – Lakeville) has also been approved by the Health and Human Services Policy and Finance committees for possible inclusion in its omnibus bill. MHA members are encouraged to urge their legislators to maintain their strong bipartisan support for increased funding for mental health services.

This week at the Capitol, the finance committees in the House and Senate will continue to construct their respective omnibus health and human services finance bills.

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.

Invite legislators to visit hospitals during spring recess
Legislators appreciate hearing from constituents about health care issues and issues affecting their community’s hospital. Because of the volume of health care issues at the Capitol this session, it is critical that MHA members invite local legislators to hospitals in their home districts for meetings during the legislative spring recess, April 10-17. Please use the grassroots matching list found on our Member Center to contact your legislators’ offices as soon as possible to schedule a visit.

For resources to support you as you plan a legislative visit, visit the MHA Member Center. Additional resources and information will be shared with chief executive officers and government relations officers by email.

The Member Center is username and password protected. For login information, contact Emily Lowther, communications manager, MHA, 651-603-3495.

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

Governor’s supplemental budget, Senate and House GOP budget targets released

Gov. Mark Dayton released his proposed supplemental budget last week. The governor proposes to spend an additional $175 million for the biennium, including an additional $4 million for Hennepin County Medical Center and Regions Hospital to maximize federal funding for those safety net hospitals.

The House and Senate Republican caucuses released their proposed budget targets for the FY 18-19 biennium. The Senate is proposing to spend $335 million less that the February 2017 forecasted spending amount for health and human services spending. The House is proposing to spend $599 million less.

Now that the finance committees have budget targets, the final omnibus bills will be completed in the next two weeks. MHA will advocate for increased funding for mental health and other hospital priorities in the budgeting process. return to top

Upcoming education sessions designed specifically for rural hospitals

MHA will hold its annual Health Care Delivery Strategies for Rural Hospitals sessions throughout the state April 25-26. Rural CAH and PPS hospitals are invited to attend.

Topics to be covered include state/federal policy developments, cost report issues, Medicare and Medicaid billing updates, guidelines for appropriate handling of billing for victims of sexual assault, implementation of a new RAC and physician/clinic billing.

Following each daily general session, separate breakout sessions will be provided for both billing and finance issues. MHA vice president of finance Joe Schindler and RSM US LLP director Sue Ankeny will present the finance breakout sessions and National Government Services provider outreach and education staff Kim Thomas will speak at the billing breakout sessions.

The programs are co-sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. The locations are as follows:

  • Tuesday, April 25, Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes, Baxter
  • Wednesday, April 26, Jackpot Junction, Morton

More information and registration materials are available on the MHA website or click here for the full brochure. With questions, contact Christy Hammer, education specialist, MHA, 651-659-1412. return to top