The 2023 Minnesota legislative session wrapped up on Monday, May 22. With more than 6,500 pieces of legislation introduced, it is being touted as one of the busiest sessions ever! Children’s Minnesota had a robust policy agenda and The Kid Experts® from across the organization helped advocate for policies that impact the daily lives of patients and families we serve.
2023 legislative session by the numbers
- Children’s Minnesota weighed in on 104 pieces of legislation.
- 18 experts testified in 24 committee hearings.
- 115 letters were submitted to legislative committees.
- Children’s Minnesota met with 30+ legislators.
- Children’s Minnesota was an active partner in 15 coalitions.
- More than 100 new advocates were added to the Children’s Minnesota Advocacy Network, and network members sent more than 240 emails to their lawmakers.
Our work at the Capitol was guided by six policy focus areas which were informed by our most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, conversations with community and coalition partners, and conversations with staff across our organization.
A recap of policies passed this session specific to each focus area is available below. You can also watch a video summary here that showcases these advocacy efforts.
Improve the pediatric mental health system
Children are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis that has been declared a national emergency. Important investments in psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs), crisis response and stabilization services, school mental health services and training for primary care physicians were made this session. There is still more work to do, and we look forward to continuing to elevate the mental health needs of children at the legislature in 2024.
Improve access to affordable health care
Improving access to Medicaid
Kids and families who have continuous access to affordable health insurance are more likely to be in better health. Several policies passed this session will improve access to Medicaid for Minnesota children and families including:
- Continuous Medicaid eligibility for those ages 21 and under.
- Medicaid coverage for gender affirming care.
- Undocumented individuals who meet other eligibility requirements will now be eligible for MinnesotaCare.
- Parental fees associated with the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) will now be eliminated, significantly expanding access to care for children with disabilities and their families.
TEFRA provides a pathway to Medical Assistance for families of children with disabilities requiring high levels of support who do not qualify based on income alone.
Reducing out of pocket costs for chronic diseases
Out of pocket costs for medications and supplies for children with chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes can be insurmountable for families. New legislation will now limit out of pocket costs for prescription drugs and related medical supplies to treat these diseases.
Achieve health equity
Systems and policies that have been in place for many years have routinely disadvantaged certain communities, including Black, Latino, Asian, and American Indian children, children with disabilities, and those who identify as LGBTQ+. Because Minnesota has some of the worst health disparities in the country, we must increase equitable access to health care, safe communities, economic opportunities, stable housing and nutritious food.
Protecting and supporting LGBTQ+ children
As The Kid Experts®, we know that children do best when their gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation is valued and respected. With access to gender affirming health care being significantly limited or eliminated in states across the country, Children’s Minnesota stood with other health care providers, legislators and advocates in support of the Trans Refuge Bill. This legislation now protects access to gender affirming care for Minnesotans and those seeking care from other states. Minnesota children will also now be protected from the discredited practice of conversion therapy.
Universal school meals
Children’s Minnesota joined the Hunger Free Schools Coalition because we know access to nutritious food supports kids’ physical and mental health, setting them on the right track for learning and reaching their full potential. Years of dedicated advocacy work by this coalition brought Minnesota to this point and we are happy to share that this fall all Minnesota students will be able to access free breakfast and lunch at school.
The CROWN Act
Discriminating against a person in the workplace or in schools because of their natural or protective hairstyles continues to result in loss of opportunity and inflict emotional harm for both children and adults. The passage of the CROWN Act now ensures that Minnesotans can work, learn and succeed in both workplace and school environments free from race-based hair discrimination. Children’s Minnesota was proud to partner with the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity in support of this policy.
We cannot achieve health equity without addressing economic disparities. The following list of investments were made this session to support Minnesota children, families and communities:
- New Child Tax Credit that will provide up to $1,750 per qualifying child with no cap on the number of children and a Working Family Credit of 4% for the first $8,750 of earned income (maximum of $350 per family).
- Funding for Community Wealth Building Grants.
- Investments in the New Americans Workforce Training Program.
- Funding for the Homeownership Investment Grant Program.
- Investments in the First-Generation Homebuyers Down Payment Assistance Fund.
- Funding for the State Rent Assistance Program.
Ensure safe communities
We must create safer neighborhoods for kids to grow and play, including tackling the epidemic of gun violence, which became the country’s leading cause of death for children and teenagers in 2022. Minnesota made important strides towards improving community safety by passing extreme risk protection orders (red flag laws) that will keep firearms out of the hands of people who are at extreme risk to themselves or others. Another bill was passed that expands firearm eligibility background checks for firearm sales and transfers. In addition to these policies, funding was provided for community violence intervention programs that provide direct services to community members, including programs that provide services to individuals and families harmed by gun violence.
Fund graduate medical education
A new mechanism for how the state invests in the Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC) fund was passed this legislative session. This policy passing is essential as Children’s Minnesota relies on the fund to train the majority of pediatric primary and specialty care providers in the state.
Ease workforce shortages
The job vacancy rate in Minnesota hospitals remains high compared to previous years. This legislative session, state investments in the health care workforce included:
- Increased reimbursement rates for home health nursing to expand access to care.
- Funding for Community Health Worker grants designed to educate, strengthen, equip, evaluate and grow Minnesota’s Community Health Worker workforce.
- Funding for loan forgiveness for nurses working for non-profit hospitals.
- Significant investments in the Dual Training Competency grant program which helps with the cost of certain degrees or certifications while providing structured, paid, on-the-job training.
We celebrate investments and policies that will positively impact the health of the communities we serve, but the work doesn’t end here. We look forward to continuing to work with our community and coalition partners as we prepare for the 2024 legislative session.