2021 N.D. Legislative Session Weekly Updates, Action Alerts, and Resources

Posted on 04/15/21


If you’re looking for ways to stay informed, stay connected, and join the conversation during the 2021 North Dakota legislative session, then you’re in the right place!

Advocating for what is important to our members and giving you a voice at the state and federal level is a priority for AARP North Dakota. If you’re currently an advocacy volunteer or interested in becoming involved, this page will:

  • give you insight into the issues that AARP North Dakota is focusing on during the legislative session;
  • provide you tips for how to engage virtually with legislators due to COVID-19;
  • and help you stay up-to-date on what is happening at the capitol with weekly updates that will be broadcast live on our Facebook.com page and YouTube channel.

Your voice matters. Legislators appreciate hearing from constituents, so they know how bills will affect you and your family. Knowing more about AARP North Dakota’s legislative priorities is helpful as you prepare to make a call, send an email, or prepare to testify before a committee.

Below you will find an overview of the issues we plan to advocate for this session as well as helpful links to resources and tools to help you engage in the legislative process.

Legislative Weekly Update - April 16, 2021 

What happened this week? 
HB 1032 - The prescription drug transparency bill - passed in the ND Senate by a vote of 38-9. 

SB 2209 - the wholesale Canadian importation bill - failed to pass in the House by a vote of 69-22. 

SB 2145 – the nursing home essential caregiver visitation bill – passed in the House by a vote of 88-1.  

SB 2212 - the prescription drug pricing study bill - was amended in committee to include pharmacy benefit managers in the study and language was added to make it a mandatory study during the interim. The bill passed on the House floor on Friday by a vote of 83-5. 

What’s coming up next week? 
Last week of the session?
We are expecting a final vote on HB 1032 on Monday.  

The Senate refused to concur with the House amendments on SB 2212 – the Rx study resolution, and SB 2145 – the nursing home essential caregiver visitation bill – so conference committees from both chambers were assigned and will meet next week to work out the differences in the bills. 

Floor Sessions and Conference Committees 
The House and the Senate will continue to hold two floor sessions per day to vote on bills in between the numerous conference committee meetings.  The legislature is hoping to adjourn by Thursday, April 22, to save days if they need to reconvene later this year.

Tune in to the AARP North Dakota weekly legislative updates every Friday at 2:30  .m. CT on facebook.com/AARPND or youtube.com/AARPND.  

Find the latest advocacy updates right here.  

AARP North Dakota enhances the lives of North Dakotans 50-plus through national, state and local advocacy; education, outreach and programs; and community volunteer service.  

Lowering Prescription Drug Costs 
In the past two years, one-quarter (24%) of North Dakota residents age 45+ report not filling a prescription that was provided by their doctor. Of those that decided not to fill a prescription, almost half (44%) cited cost as the reason. The majority (80%) believe it should be legal for people in the U.S. to import prescription drugs from Canada. 

Policy Priorities: 
AARP supports policy changes that help make the cost of prescription drugs more affordable.  

  • Prescription drug cost transparency that would require drug companies to report increases and an explanation of the cost increases for certain prescription drugs that increase over a set percentage.  
  • Safe importation of prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies and wholesalers operating in Canada, ensuring safety regulations as strong as those in the U.S. 

Bill Status: 
Three bills related to lowering prescription drug costs were introduced by Senator Anderson. Senate Bill (SB) 2209 and Senate Bill (SB) 2212 outline the process for North Dakota to implement a wholesale prescription drug importation program. SB 2212 was amended into a study on prescription drug pricing, importation and reference pricing and passed the Senate on Feb. 11. SB 2209 was also amended to allow the state to work with another state to implement a program to import prescription drugs from Canada and passed the Senate on Feb. 12. Senate Bill 2170, which would allow the state to “import” drug prices instead of the actual drugs, was amended and passed in the Senate on Feb. 19. All three bills will now be considered by the House after crossover break starting on March 3. 

The Interim Healthcare Committee studied and introduced House Bill 1032. This prescription drug cost transparency bill is an important building block for other legislative efforts that can more directly address prescription drug costs by requiring pharmaceutical companies to provide information about how a drug is priced, and to justify large price increases. HB 1032 was passed by the House on Feb. 19. 

Providing Access to Health Coverage and Home- and Community-Based Services  
North Dakota residents think many healthcare issues are important, such as having adequate health insurance coverage (90%) and the ability to pay for prescription drugs (75%). Caring for a loved one is extremely important or very important to a majority (80%) of North Dakotans, including having high-quality long-term care in their community (79%), staying in your community as you get older (62%), and having access to affordable housing (69%). 

Policy Priorities: 
AARP is focused on making sure older North Dakotans can live independently as they age in the setting of their choice and have access to quality, reliable, and affordable healthcare. 

  • Support the continuation of Medicaid Expansion. 
  • Expand access to safe and affordable long-term care services for individuals at home and in their communities through programs that provide services for people who are older or physically disabled (SPED and Expanded SPED), senior nutrition funding, and enhancements to the Aging and Disability Resource Link.  
  • Work to increase resources and support for the 68,000 unpaid North Dakota family caregivers. 
  • Invest in funding for accessible and affordable housing. 

Bill Status: 
House Bill (HB) 1012 , the Department of Human Services budget, includes funding for Medicaid Expansion, meal programs, housing, home care services, and support for caregivers.  

HB 1441 - the paid family leave bill - was amended into a study resolution and passed the House on Feb. 18. This bill will provide much needed support for the state’s unpaid family caregivers who care for their loved ones at home – keeping them out of hospitals and nursing homes. 

Preventing Financial Exploitation of Older and/or Vulnerable North Dakotans 
More than one-third (35%) of North Dakota residents are extremely concerned or very concerned about becoming the target or victim of a scam or fraud, and over half are concerned about having their personal information or identity stolen. 

Policy Priorities: 

  • Explore ways to improve and build upon our statutes to protect vulnerable adults, especially as it relates to consumer fraud. 

Bill Status: 
House Bill (HB) 1208  makes changes to the consumer protection laws that would strengthen enforcement of anti-fraud measures and enhance protections against fraud, identity theft and other scams that target vulnerable people. HB 1208 passed the House Feb. 2. 

Other Bills of Interest 
SB 2145 - the bill related to nursing home visitation - was amended and passed out of committee on Feb 17. The bill outlines the process for residents in long-term care facilities to designate an essential caregiver that would be permitted to enter the facility to provide support and care.  

SB 2253 is a study on the long-term care insurance market. The bill passed on the Senate floor on Feb. 10. 

HB 1175, which would grant immunity to long-term care facilities related to COVID-19, passed in the House Feb. 5. AARP submitted testimony in opposition to the bill and plans to testify in opposition when the bill is heard in the Senate Industry, Business and Labor committee after the crossover break. 

With cooperation from our volunteers in Driver Safety, AARP North Dakota weighed in on Senate Bill 2121, which would enhance road safety by making North Dakota a primary belt law state. The bill passed in the Senate on Jan. 20. 

Tune into the AARP North Dakota weekly legislative updates every Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT at facebook.com/AARPND or YouTube.com/AARPND


Prescription Drug Prices
The rising cost of prescription drugs impacts not only AARP members but all North Dakotans.  In AARP’s 2020 survey of North Dakota adults 44 percent of respondents said they had decided not to fill a prescription that their doctor had given them because of the cost of the drug.

AARP North Dakota is prioritizing our resources to ensure the critical conversation and necessary policy changes intended to help to help make the cost of prescription drugs more affordable happen.

We hear countless stories from members and volunteers like you about how the high cost of prescription drugs impacts your life daily. Legislators need to hear your stories, too! If you are willing to share your story, let us know by contacting Janelle Moos, Advocacy Director, at jmoos@aarp.org or 701-390-0161.  

Here is an infographic that you can share with legislators to demonstrate the impact of the cost of prescription drugs on you and others in North Dakota.

In August 2020, the Interim Health Care Committee agreed to introduce a bill related to prescription drug cost transparency. The introduction of this bill is a step in the right direction to help the state and consumers understand why the price of prescription drugs is increasing and protect North Dakotans from overcharging by prescription drug companies.

Rep. George Keiser, chair of the Interim Health Care Committee, participated in an interview with us and provided his perspective on the potential impact of the transparency bill. You can watch the interview here.

State legislation that creates transparency is one solution. Legislation to create a state wholesale importation program to purchase lower cost drugs from Canada is another solution.

Of North Dakotans 45 and older, 81 percent believe it should be legal for people in the U.S. to buy prescription drugs from Canada. AARP North Dakota agrees that safe and legal importation could help drive down drug prices, too. Check out the resources below to learn more.

COVID-19  has shown that adequate staffing and resources designed to improve the safety and quality of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and protect residents against sickness, neglect and isolation will continue to be a critical conversation during the 2021 legislative session. At the same time, AARP North Dakota is invested in working with state and federal officials to increase access to the home- and community-care seniors prefer.

We will also plan to ensure the components of the CARE Act that was passed in the 2019 session continues to support the 68,000 unpaid North Dakota family caregivers who make it possible for their older parents, spouses and other loved ones to live at home.

Livable Communities
We are also looking at what work we can do at the state and local level to make your community a better place for you and all.  

For more information about AARP North Dakota’s 2021 Legislative Priorities click here.

AARP’s ongoing work at the federal level includes advocating for social security, Medicare, and lowering prescription drug prices. Stay in touch with North Dakota’s Congressional Delegation.

Telephone Town Hall on High Cost of Prescription Drugs
AARP North Dakota hosted this December 7 telephone town hall to discuss legislation intended to help make prescription drugs more affordable. Rep. George Keiser, chair of the N.D. Legislature’s Interim Health Care Committee, and Elaine Ryan, Vice President with AARP, talked about efforts at both the state and federal level to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Listen to a recording of the call here: https://vekeo.com/event/aarpnorthdakota-60786/

Weekly Updates on N.D. Legislative Session
Join us for weekly legislative updates during the 2021 legislative session to stay up-to-date on what is happening at the legislature and find out how you can help us advocate for issues important to North Dakotans 50 and older. The updates will be held every Friday at 2:30 p.m. Central Time. You can watch the updates live on our  Facebook page  or YouTube channel.

Briefing with N.D. Legislators
Here's the link to watch a recording of the Nov. 10 briefing with North Dakota state legislators. The briefing included a comprehensive overview of policy solutions related to cutting the cost of prescription drugs for North Dakotans.

Find all AARP North Dakota upcoming and past events on our webpage.

If you’re interested in helping create positive changes for North Dakotan’s 50 and older then the Advocacy or A-Team is for you! The A-Team is a diverse group of volunteers that work alongside staff to educate and advocate for issues that are important to our members. In order to do this the A-Team participates in monthly calls and regular face-to-face meetings to stay informed about AARP-led state and federal advocacy efforts.  

A-Team volunteers work alongside AARP North Dakota’s staff to visit local, state and federally elected officials to discuss the benefits of legislation or policies, write letters to the editor, participate and track issues during the legislative sessions, and train other members to participate in the process.

Our volunteers play a key role in AARP’s mission to lead positive social change. If you’re interested in finding out more or becoming a member of the A-Team, please contact Janelle Moos, Advocacy Director, at jmoos@aarp.org or 701-390-0161. 

Long-Term Care
COVID-19 and North Dakota Nursing Homes Analysis
North Dakota Long-Term Care Scorecard

Prescription Drugs
Rx Importation FAQ
Prescription Drug Cost Transparency FAQ
HHS Issues New Rule for Importing Prescription Drugs
Wholesale Prescription Drug Importation
Prescription Drug Transparency
Rx Price Gouging vs. 50+ Income
How North Dakota Residents are Impacted by High Rx Costs

This story is provided by AARP North Dakota. Visit the AARP North Dakota page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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