During the 2014 session, the legislature passed the so-called “Timberjay” bill which ensured that the Data Practices Act extended to private vendors performing government functions under contract. The final bill contained a one year exemption for Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) which was scheduled to expire in mid 2015. HMOs are central to the administration of the state’s public health care programs.
Data classification prior to session
At the start of the 2015 legislative session, data held by Minnesota HMOs that was pertinent to the administration of the state’s public health care programs was classified as “nonpublic” data.
MNCOGI supports public access to HMO data that is pertinent to the government functions performed by those entities on behalf of the state. Throughout the session, MNCOGI sought to ensure that the one-year HMO/Timberjay exemption was not extended. MNCOGI also sought further technical changes to state law to ensure that data requests to HMOs for public program data would be fulfilled. MNCOGI also testified in support of clarifying language regaridng which HMO business expenses could be charged against public programs.
Language clarifying HMO administrative expense definitions was added during a House Health and Human Services (HHS) committee hearing.
During the course of the legislative session, no bills were introduced to extend the one-year HMO exemption from the “Timberjay” law.
Once administrative expense language was added, the bill was passed by the House HHS committee and added to the House HHS omnibus bill. The omnibus was subsequently passed by the full House, and was sent to conference committee with the Senate’s HHS omnibus bill. The administrative expense language survived conference, and the conference bill was passed by both houses and signed by the governor.