A Legislative Summary
The 67th legislative session gaveled on its final day Friday, April 30th, just four days short of the 80-day maximum set by the North Dakota Constitution. The remaining days are slated to be used for approval of the new legislative districts.
It is important to know that although the session included many intense debates on many issues, this was not a budget-strapped session, thanks to the additional COVID-19 federal funds. The total budget for the 2021-23 biennium settled in at $16.9 billion - $3.2 billion more than the previous biennium. Some statewide projects given funding included infrastructure for flood control, revolving loan funds, highway funds and agriculture product developments.
On the NDMA front, 197 bills were tracked that had the possibility to impact the field of medicine, physician practices and how we care for patients. The session resulted in many notable successes as well as some losses. The losses do not represent failure but serve as opportunities to move forward into the next legislative session. Before you can blink an eye, the 68th session will be upon us. It is never too early to begin planning.
Although too numerous to mention in this summary, here are some success highlights:
Medicaid Expansion: The Governor’s budget recommendation proposed to transition Medicaid Expansion from a managed care program with commercial rates into the traditional Medicaid program. However, the legislature declined the Governor’s recommendation, reauthorizing it at commercial rates. The only compromise was to remove the nineteen and twenty year-olds from Medicaid expansion and placed them in traditional Medicaid.
Medicaid Reimbursement: Due to need, patients in need will now receive assistance for continuous glucose monitors and metabolic supplements. In addition, providers will now receive coverage for interpreter services.
UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences: Received a needs-based budget in higher education and also included the successful return of the Challenge Grants.
Maternal Mortality Review Committee: For improved communication with CDC, other states and immunity protections, MMRC is being placed in statute.
COVID Liability Relief: Offers protection for health care facilities and providers who responded quickly with uncertain guidance and limited resources.
Scope of Practice for Naturopaths: Prevented the ability of naturopaths to prescribe prescription drugs.
Licensure of Extended Stay Center: Allows for patients to stay up to 48 hours in a facility separately licensed by with an existing ASC.
Opportunities for 2023
The following are bill challenges that did not fall within NDMA's favor, but will lead the way to challenge during the next session.
Telemedicine: Current North Dakota legislation provides coverage parity but fails to address payment parity. The bill was amended into a mandatory study; the House added a parity pilot project, which included payment parity through the study period. Unfortunately, this bill failed on the House floor due to a surprise $2.5 million fiscal note highlighted from state health insurance plan.
Physician Practice - Freedom of Choice for Health Care Services: Would have allowed a patient to choose a provider of choice. This bill was amended to a study for further review.
NDMA extends a sincere thank you to all NDMA members who contributed to this year's 67th legislative session. You took the challenge of stepping up to the podium to protect physician practices and support quality patient care.
We sincerely appreciate all of your dedicated work and contributions to make North Dakota a great state for health care.