Today, Governor Walz announced we’ve reached the milestone of one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine distributed in the state of Minnesota. We’re hoping to receive greater supplies of the vaccine from the federal government so we can vaccinate more people. We have the infrastructure to vaccinate 500,000 individuals each week, once we have the doses.
While we’re making great progress, the virus still poses a public health threat, especially as new variants emerge. Continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask around others, stay home when you’re sick, and get a test if you think you need one.
The state has launched a new Vaccine Connector tool to alert Minnesotans when it’s their turn to receive the vaccine. After signing up for the free service, it will alert you when you’re eligible, connect you to resources to schedule an appointment, and notify you about vaccine opportunities near you.
Everyone is able to sign up, regardless of their current eligibility status. Learn more and sign up here. Assistance is also available over the phone at 833-431-2053.
This session, lawmakers have the responsibility of setting a new two-year state budget during an unprecedented public health crisis. House DFLers are working to put the workers, families, and small businesses hurt the most by COVID-19 first. Our vision ensures all Minnesotans can have a world-class education, access to affordable health care, and economic security to ensure we can recover from this crisis, and succeed and thrive once we’ve put it behind us.
No matter how challenging this may seem, we have the capacity to do this hard work and make the investments Minnesotans deserve. Governor Walz has introduced a sensible budget proposal, part of which calls on the very wealthiest Minnesotans and large corporations to pay their fair share so students, families, and small businesses are able to make it out of this pandemic.
We’ve made some progress in addressing the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs – in 2019 we enacted regulations on pharmacy benefit managers – but many Minnesotans continue to worry about the high cost of medications. This is especially concerning during a pandemic, and we need to ensure all Minnesotans can afford the medications they need to live healthy lives. House DFLers are putting forth solutions to help rein in these high prices and help Minnesotans avoid rationing drugs (such as cutting pills in half) or going without their medication altogether.
One piece of legislation would allow the state to develop a prescription drug purchasing program for our public health insurance programs like Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. Within Medical Assistance, pharmacy spending per enrollee increased by 9.7% between 2018 and 2021. This legislation would increase transparency and efficiency by leveraging the state’s purchasing power to reduce drug prices.
Another bill would create a new independent Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help ensure prices are reasonable, justified, and affordable for consumers. The board would be empowered to set payment limits for drugs with prices so high they create an affordability challenge to the state health care system or to patients.
With many COVID-19 metrics headed in the right direction and more Minnesotans – including educators – receiving vaccinations, Governor Walz announced a plan to ensure all middle and high school students in the state will once again receive some form of in-person learning by March 8. A return to in-person learning will help the academic, emotional, and social development of our students.
This is only one step in what’s necessary to protect students, and we have a great deal of work before us to invest in wrap-around supports, address learning loss and opportunity gaps, and deliver critical funding for schools. You can read more about the updated Safe Learning Plan here.
Please continue to stay in touch with your viewpoints, ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. Thank you for the honor to work as your public servant.