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E-cigarettes, triclosan and MNsure issues aired as House passes HHS policy bill

Rep. Tina Liebling responds to a member’s amendment during floor debate on her bill, HF2402, the omnibus health and human services policy bill May 5. Photo by Paul Battaglia

A potential ban on cleaning products containing triclosan, an anti-bacterial ingredient, opened the debate on the omnibus health and human services policy bill Monday before the House passed the over 200-page bill 86-46.

Sponsored by Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), HF2402 moves next to the Senate, where Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato) is the sponsor.

Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) offered the amendment that would have prohibited the sale of products containing triclosan, except for those approved by the Food and Drug Administration, by 2016. Although the amendment did not pass, Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), successfully offered a similar provision that would allow products that have trace amounts of triclosan due to the manufacturing process to be labeled triclosan-free.

“I think it’s a first good step,” said Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings). “Hopefully we won’t be too far away from not having this product in our personal care.”

“The fact that triclosan is in our bodies is the alarm," said Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls). "It’s an alarm because it’s a known endocrine disruptor and it’s a known endocrine disruptor to the thyroid gland." Wagenius cited research that says insufficient thyroid hormones during pregnancy may have negative consequences on the child.

[Watch a full video archive of Monday's House floor session here]

Other amendments successfully added to the bill include provisions that would require child-resistant packaging for some of the liquid products for e-cigarettes, a ban on e-cigarette use in state-owned buildings and a limit of one payment to navigators for assistance with MNsure applications even if that application is submitted multiple times.

Rep. Laurie Halverson’s (DFL-Eagan) bill on e-cigarette regulations remains in the omnibus bill as does Rep. JoAnn Ward’s (DFL-Woodbury) bill banning tanning bed use for youth under age 18. Additionally, warning signs on the dangers of tanning bed use must be posted in tanning salons. Rep. Jim Abeler (DFL-Anoka) successfully amended the bill to change the wording of the signs to include a list of conditions that should prompt a talk with a doctor before tanning and to tell customers to see a doctor if they tan frequently.

“People should know this, that they look good for a while, but they might not be happy,” Abeler said.

Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) withdrew his amendment on medical marijuana usage after the statute related to his amendment was removed from the bill. Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) sponsors a medical marijuana study bill, SF2470, which is scheduled to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday morning.

Other provisions in the bill, by category, include:

Foster Care and Other Facilities

  • A section of the bill would specify guidelines to provide smoke-free foster care homes for children.
  • Providers of adult foster care homes who serve clients with a mental illness would have the option to receive mental health certification that would include training on suicide prevention.
  • Dementia training requirements would be established for workers who staff a facility specializing in dementia care, has a special dementia care unit or houses residents in assisted living.
  • Certain facilities that provide services and housing for people ages 55 and older and facilities funded by an “end long-term homelessness” initiative would need to have a written emergency disaster plan.

Health Professionals and Services

  • Dentists would gain permission to administer the flu shot when certain conditions are met.
  • The definition of a “designated rural area” would be tweaked in the context of an education loan forgiveness program for health professionals serving in certain areas.
  • Hospitals would be required to provide a written notice of rights and available resources to sexual assault victims.
  • The Department of Health would award grants to minority-run health organizations that would provide mental health and other culturally competent health services.
  • Revises definitions of “private-duty nursing” to instead refer to “home care nursing,” in cases such as providing physician-ordered hourly care.

Licensing

  • Definitions and regulations of several health licensing boards would be updated. Some of those boards include chiropractors, athletic trainers, dentists and podiatrists.
  • Home care providers with license violations or suspensions would be able to contest the decision and receive a hearing on their case in a shorter time period than required under current law.

Pharmacy

  • Guidelines managing the contracts between pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacists would be established. The provisions relate to the “maximum allowable cost” for medications, which is the maximum amount a pharmacy can receive for the cost of varying medications.
  • An article devoted to the Board of Pharmacy consists of several provisions, such as: updates to definitions, guidelines pertaining to vaccinations, a procedure for “cease and desist orders” in cases of board violations, disciplinary authority and related regulations, and permission for drug compounding.

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