Public health, abortion rights

Legislators have taken the first steps in the current health budget to create a public insurance plan. State officials must first review and obtain federal approval for the expansion of MinnesotaCare, currently only for the working poor.

It will be several years before a public option becomes available, and the most likely of these is the removal of income limits on state health insurance. Also this year, lawmakers voted to remove immigrant status as a bar to seeking medical help.

Lawmakers have also created a prescription drug affordability panel that will use a mix of state and federal data to help keep drug prices down. This includes deductible limits for medications used to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma.

There was insufficient support in the Senate to pass a nursing staffing bill with committees to help define the patient-nurse relationship. However, lawmakers agreed to take a stronger approach to tackling workplace violence and conduct an in-depth survey to examine why nurses quit their jobs.

In addition, the Nurse Safety Act provides money for a loan waiver to attract new nurses.

Abortion and other sexual assistance

One of the first bills passed this year concerned the protection of reproductive rights, including guaranteed access to abortion. Prior to the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, access to abortion was protected by a 1995 state Supreme Court decision, similar to the now overturned Roe v. Wade protected access at the federal level

Lawmakers have also scrapped a number of abortion restrictions they say are unconstitutional or violate patients’ rights to make health decisions together with their doctors. They also passed legislation protecting patients who come to the state for abortion treatment.

A bill banning conversion therapy for youth and a law making the state a haven for families seeking gender-sensitive care were also passed. Public health, abortion rights

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