Drew Zinkel, MD, FACEP
Many of MNACEP’s board members took the opportunity to represent Minnesota at ACEP’s national Leadership and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. in May. We also had one resident from each of the three MN EM residency programs attend and enjoy the EMRA programming available at this conference. While there we met with state legislators and their aides to discuss issues important for emergency physicians on a national level. This included asking them to sign on to a bipartisan-supported bill going through the House of Representatives, the “Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act,” HR 2519 sponsored by Representative Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA). This act promotes increasing the supply of inpatient psychiatric beds and alternative care settings such as regional emergency psychiatric units, expedites transitions to post-emergency care through expanded coordination and networking infrastructure development, and expanding approaches to providing psychiatric care in the emergency department through tele-psychiatry.
The second ask was to support the Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act. The principles promoted with legislators recommended taking patients out of the middle by adopting a proven process that encourages insurers and providers to negotiate fairly and to improve transparency. Under current law, patient protections only apply to coinsurance and co-pays for emergency care, not deductibles. To increase transparency, ACEP is suggesting insurers provide the deductible amount on policyholders’ insurance cards and suggested adopting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) arbitration. For more details on this you can review the advocacy efforts that ACEP has been promoting.
Locally, the legislative session wrapped up in Minnesota, striking a $48 billion deal on the state’s next two-year budget. Aspects of the deal that affect physicians and providers include a reduction in the provider tax from 2.0 down to 1.8 percent, although the tax no longer has a sunset. In addition, a fee imposed on prescription drug makers to combat the opioid epidemic could generate up to $20 million in funding a year, which would establish the first separate state fund in the nation dedicated to opioid addiction prevention and treatment.
Our MNACEP membership is growing, and we have surpassed the 700 member mark this year for the first time. This growth also allows us to grow our board of directors. In the goal of broadening our board to include members that represent the entire state of Minnesota, the board welcomes Adam Riutta, MD, of St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, MN as an additional board member. Dr. Riutta has been the Division Chair of Emergency Medicine for Essentia Health since 2016 and provides oversight and leadership for their six emergency departments.
The board continues to work hard in support of your membership to further our mission and vision. Please consider getting involved as there are many possibilities available to you and we welcome further participation. Thank you again for your membership and involvement.