Minnesota leaders offer predictions for this year’s legislative session


Hannah Saunders


At the 2023 Minnesota State of Reform Health Policy Conference, several health leaders met to discuss their predictions for the state’s 2024 legislative session, which begins next month. Last year’s session saw over 7,000 bills introduced. 

Lin Nelson, vice president of public affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, noted how this high volume became tricky for staffers involved. She said the last legislative session was the first fully in-person session since 2020, and there was a budget surplus of $17 billion. She said things that usually start off slowly moved swiftly through the legislature in 2023. 

“It was very challenging in terms of communicating with people and finding folks, and having enough time to talk with them,” Nelson said. 

Stay one step ahead. Join our email list for the latest news.


Tom Lehman, founder of the Lehman Group, said last year’s session was “chaos” and that the days of finding common ground between parties are over. Lehman hopes to see more alternative solutions, rather than flat out rejecting bills, and he wants to see creativity from Republicans and Democrats to work on improving the healthcare system.

“I believe we have the worst possible healthcare system in the world. It’s the most expensive. We cover a fraction of the people for double the cost.” 

— Lehman

Many of the bills that were passed last year focused on providing information that can be the basis for future public policy decisions, according to Peter Brickwedde, assistant commissioner for external affairs at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. 

“There were a lot of things set up for future decision-making in this session,” Brickwedde said. “It was a transformational session. It was a once-in-a-lifetime session.” 

Brickwedde highlighted a study that was passed last year to implement an Affordable Care Act marketplace, which goes over public options and MinnesotaCare buy-in options. The study, which will provide solid and factual information about the impact of a public option plan upon which decisions can be made, is due to the legislature on Feb. 1st.  

Amy Dellwo, president of the Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health, and vice president of strategic policy and market expansion at Kyros, hopes to see more legislative work on behavioral health and coverage for long-term care during 2024. She mentioned how high usage of meth and alcohol in the state need to be addressed, and workforce remains a key issue.

“There are some technology tools out there … like artificial intelligence (AI) that will exist,” Dellwo said. 

This session, Dellwo would like to see Minnesota invest in more advanced technology like AI for both larger provider networks and for smaller, rural facilities. She said the state needs to make investments in substance use recovery going forward, like peer recovery support specialists. 

Dellwo thinks peer recovery support specialists, who have personal experience with substance use, would be a good wraparound support to amplify the work of recovery, and help individuals who are in treatment. Utilizing peer recovery support specialists is another way to increase the healthcare workforce, Dellwo said. 

Lehman expects mental health to be a topic of focus in general, and noted how provider rates need to be addressed. He said prescription drug costs remain of concern, but noted that the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which was established last session, will begin their work this year to better reel in the cost of drugs. Lehman added that more healthcare funding is needed, particularly for hospitals and long-term nursing homes, and said it would be “a heavy lift at the capitol.”

Leave a Comment