New health care policies ring in the new year

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News about Governor-elect Dayton’s expected Medicaid expansion opt-in and general Health and Human Services budget-balancing concerns dominate state medical headlines. However, it’s important to also highlight a few policy changes coming down the pike, effective January 1, 2011:

Enhanced accessibility for Minnesotans with disabilities: Iron Range legislators Rep. Tom Rukavina and Sen. David Tomassoni sponsored a law expanding access to public information to people with disabilities.

It requires that all state documents be stored in such a way that all Minnesotans who are sight impaired are able to access them 2013.

According to the MN House, starting in 2011, counselors working with sight-impaired Minnesotans will be required to complete new trainings that include:

  • at least six weeks of intensive training at an adjustment-to-blindness center;
  • any additional training requirements specified by State Services for the Blind; and
  • any continuing education requirements specified by SSB.

Sharps Disposal: Roughly 30 million syringes and lancets (“sharps”) are sold in Minnesota every year. If thrown away in regular garbage cans, sharps have the capacity to accidentally infect someone handling waste disposal.

A new law now requires pharmaceutical companies and the makers of sharps to give details on their websites about how they will safely and legally collect and dispose of sharps. It also requires them to educate consumers about proper disposal and give them information on collections and other efforts by outside groups working toward similar public safety goals regarding sharps.

Health Insurance cost disclosure and consumer protection: Rep. Erin Murphy and Lt. Gov.-elect Yvonne Prettner-Solon have passed legislation altering insurance companies’ contracts with providers and patients, enhancing providers’ ability to communicate and deal directly with patients.

The law adds provisions to the health plan company-provider relationship forcing the companies to disclose more information about their internal methods for reimbursement rates to the provider and additional fees relevant to a provider’s practice for the next year (less surprises for the provider when renewing).

The new law also extends the previous six-month deadline that providers can apply for reimbursement of services. Currently, all insurance companies (health, auto, etc.) can require a six-month deadline for providers to submit claims for compensation. This new law extends that deadline.