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

Posted on 04/15/21

IMG_1632.JPG

If you’re looking for ways to stay informed, stay connected, and join the conversation around our advocacy work at the state and federal level, 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 interim;
  • 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 in Bismarck and Washington, D.C.

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.

The North Dakota Legislature adjourned on April 29.  The total number of days in session was 76. Legislative management will meet on May 19, 2021, to establish priorities for topics provided in resolutions and bills to be studied during the 2021-2022 interim. Below is a final report on the 2021 legislative session.

Tune into the AARP North Dakota monthly legislative updates at 11:30 a.m. CT the 4th Friday of every month during the interim at facebook.com.AARPND or YouTube.com/AARPND.

FINAL 2021 LEGISLATIVE REPORT
2021 ND Legislative Wins.pdf
Lowering Prescription Drug Costs 
In the past two years, one-quarter (24%) of North Dakota residents age 45-plus 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. 

Final Bill Status: 
The Interim Healthcare Committee studied and introduced House Bill 1032 - the prescription drug cost transparency bill. This legislation is an important building block for other legislative efforts that can more directly address prescription drug costs. It requires 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. A hearing was held in the Senate Human Services Committee on March 16. The amended version of the bill outlines the process that the N.D. Insurance Commissioner will receive, compile and report on increases of certain prescription drugs over a set percentage and publish the data on the Insurance Department’s website. The amended bill received a Do Pass recommendation on April 9 and passed the full Senate on April 12 by a vote of 38 (y) - 9 (n). It passed in the House on April 16 by a vote of 65 (y) – 23 (n). The bill was signed by the Governor on April 27. 

Three bills related to lowering prescription drug costs were introduced by Senator Howard Anderson. The original version of Senate Bill 2212 outlined the process for North Dakota to implement wholesale prescription drug importation. SB 2212 was amended into a mandatory study on prescription drug pricing, importation, reference pricing, and the role pharmacy benefit managers play in drug pricing. SB 2212 passed in the Senate on April 20, in the House on April 21, and signed by the Governor on April 23. 

Senate Bill 2209 was 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. It was considered by the House Human Services Committee on March 9. Unfortunately, SB 2209 received a Do Not Pass recommendation out of committee by a vote of 13-1 and failed to pass in the House by a vote of 69 (n) – 22 (y) on April 5. 

 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. The House Industry, Business, and Labor Committee (IBL) held a hearing on the bill on March 9 and gave it a Do Not Pass recommendation out of committee by a vote of 10-3. It failed to pass in the House by a vote of 73 (n) -19 (y) on April 8. 

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 their community as they 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 1012 , the Department of Human Services budget, includes funding for Medicaid Expansion, meal programs, housing, home care services, and support for caregivers.  Enhancements were made to support home- and community-based services and supports, including funding for rental assistance to help transition home after care, increases to supervision rates, family personal care rates, food assistance, and transportation rates. Additional resources were also added to support a campaign through the Aging and Disability Resource Link (ADRL) to increase access to information about availability of home- and community-based services along with three additional employees to focus on home- and community-based services case management. The budget was passed by both chambers on April 29. 

House Bill 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. Unfortunately, the bill received a Do Not Pass recommendation and failed on the Senate floor by a vote of 22 (y) – 25 (n) on March 11. 

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 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. The bill passed the House Feb. 2. The bill was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 9 and reported out Do Pass by the committee on March 16. The bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 46 (y) – 0 (n) and in the House by a vote of 92 (y) -1 (no). It was signed by the Governor on April 9. 

Other Bills of Interest 
Senate Bill 2145 - relating 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 who would be permitted to enter the facility to provide support and care. The bill was heard in the House Human Services Committee on March 16. It was amended in committee and received a favorable recommendation from the committee. It passed in the House by a vote of 88 (y) – 1 (n). The Senate also passed its own amended version of the bill, so a conference committee was convened to iron out differences. The final bill includes provisions that outline if a facility is closed during an emergency, the Department of Human Services has to review and update the visitation restrictions every 30 days while still permitting access for designated caregivers who have access to training and personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to entering the facility. The final bill was signed by the Governor on April 28. 

Senate Bill 2253 is a study on the long-term care insurance market. The bill passed in the Senate on Feb. 10, was heard in the House Industry, Business and Labor committee on March 3, and received a do pass recommendation. The bill passed in the House by a vote of 90 (y) – 2 (n), concurred by the Senate, and signed by the Governor on April 12.  

House Bill 1175, which would grant immunity to long-term care facilities related to COVID-19, passed in the House Feb. 5. AARP testified in opposition when the bill was heard in the Senate Industry, Business and Labor committee on March 10.  The bill was amended in the Senate to provide an exemption for the N.D. Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit and was voted out of committee with a do pass recommendation. The amended bill passed in the House by a 79 (y) – 15 (n) vote on April 13, passed in the Senate by a vote of 40 (y) – 7 (n) on April 15, and was signed by the Governor on April 23. 

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 seat belt law state. The bill passed in the Senate on Jan. 20. AARP testified along with members of the Vision Zero task force, in support of the bill in the House Transportation Committee during the hearing on March 18. Unfortunately, the bill received an 8-5 do not pass recommendation and failed on the House floor by a vote of 45 (y) to 49 (n) on March 23. 

To find out how your legislators voted on these and other bills, go to https://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/67-2021/regular.  

STATE ADVOCACY

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
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.

Caregivers
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.

FEDERAL ADVOCACY
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.

EVENTS
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.

GET INVOLVED - JOIN THE A-TEAM
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. 

RESOURCES
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.

More from AARP in Bismarck

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »


Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today

JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR

  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Bismarck
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner
JOIN NOW