The 2015 Legislative Session has come to an end and we’ve had another great year working hard to push for heart-health policies in Minnesota. We have many reasons to celebrate the work in fighting for a healthier Minnesota!
As the dust settles, we are excited to share the big policy wins the state saw in heart-health this year. Thank you for your passion and work in making these happen:
• Minnesota Stroke System: Minnesota is now home to one of the country’s most comprehensive stroke systems with the passage of the EMS Stroke Protocols bill. This bill makes it a requirement for all EMS systems in the state to have updated protocols to treat and transfer stroke victims so they receive the best possible care available in the fastest amount of time to reduce the chances of death or disability from stroke. The system also became stronger this year, when the legislature dedicated $350,000 in the budget of dedicated funding to run the stroke program. Previously, the system was funded by a federal grant from the CDC that the state had to continually re-apply for and that has always changing parameters. This new dedicated funding will allow the basics of the system to be run into the future and shows that the state is dedicated to ensuring Minnesota has a successful system to treat stroke ensuring the best possible outcome for its residents.
• Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Funding: We did it! Because of advocates like you, we were able to keep the $35 million/biennium in the base budget and keep SHIP fully funded this year. More importantly, we will be able to continue to see the great outcomes of the program as it works to combat obesity and reduce tobacco use in almost every corner of our state!
• Health Equity Data Analysis: We were able to advocate for $250,000 per year to implement better data reporting on race, ethnicity and language in an effort to better identify responses to Health Disparities in Minnesota. With better data reporting focusing on disparities, more attention can be made to the population in the most need of intervention, programs and resources.
• MNCare: Thousands of Minnesotans will be able to continue to benefit from MNCare thanks to your loud voices! After an earlier proposal to eliminate MNCare all together, the session ends with MNCare intact! While, portions of the bill changed in negotiations and some participants will see increases to their premiums and co-pays, the program will remain, which is much better than the elimination of these services.
While it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying or involvement by advocates like you, we are still in the fight for a few of the policy areas we started at the beginning of session. Some of these could be revived during a special session, others we will attack again next year, as we know heart disease and stroke don’t stop, and so we can’t stop fighting against it!
• Active Transportation: After many emails, phone calls, meetings, rallies, postcards, petitions, etc., the legislature only passed a "lights-on" transportation bill which means there is no new funding for biking and walking programs or other transportation priorities this year. Even though we didn’t get a comprehensive multi-modal transportation bill this session, it is because of the hard work of many advocates like you that we have laid unprecedented groundwork and mobilization of bike/walk advocates from across the state. We will continue to build statewide momentum for active transportation for 2016-17.
• Physical Education: Despite our best efforts and great hearings in the House and Senate, the PE bill, which would improve PE for all Minnesota students, did not make it into the final K-12 Education omnibus bill. However, Gov. Dayton has vetoed the K-12 Education bill for other reasons so the next step is a special session on education. During this special session, we will have an opportunity to urge that the PE bill be included in the revived K-12 bill. And if we aren’t heard during special session, we will certainly be back next session fighting for better PE in Minnesota!
• EMS/Pre-hospital Data Collection and Reporting: This bill would have shifted pre-hospital data that is already being collected from the EMS Regulatory Board to the Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health to allow for the data to be better utilized and shared with partners form across the state looking to do quality and program improvement in pre-hospital aspects of acute care. This bill had a rough start this year and also a sizable fiscal note. We will continue to work with our EMS partners on this bill next session.
Thanks for another GREAT year! YOU ARE THE CURE!