The new year brings with it several new laws in Minnesota that will take effect Jan. 1 covering pharmacy benefit managers, people who prescribe opioids and those who traffic in imported animal parts, including rhino horns and elephant tusks. You know who you are.
Here are three new state laws to consider as the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
New rules for pharmacy ‘middlemen’
Effective Wednesday, Minnesota will join a growing number of states that regulate pharmacy benefit managers, the entities that negotiate how much health plans pay drug manufacturers for the medications they cover.
The deals often involve rebates or administrative fees, but little has been known about how much the companies keep for themselves. Such arrangements have also earned the companies the nickname of “pharmacy middlemen.”
Now, under the new law, pharmacy benefit managers must be licensed by the Department of Commerce to operate in Minnesota and disclose rebates and other financial arrangements to the department and to health plans.
The companies could be fined $5,000 for each day they act without a license and also face additional civil penalties for not complying with reporting requirements.
An extra note of trivia: This will be one of the last laws to go on the books that originated in bills sponsored by state Rep. Alice Mann, DFL-Lakeville, and state Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, respectively. Mann announced this year that she would be retiring from the Legislature after one term. Jensen has said he will not seek re-election in 2020.
Opioid crisis response
Most of Minnesota’s legislative response to the opioid crisis took effect on July 1 alongside most of the new laws that passed last session.
But a new provision that becomes effective Jan. 1 will require controlled substance prescribers to take at least two hours of continuing education courses on best practices in prescribing opioids. It will be part of the requirements to renew licenses.
The new law compels the state boards of medical practice, nursing, dentistry, optometry and podiatric medicine to enforce the requirement.
Cracking down on animal trade
Federal law already bars crossing state lines to buy or sell certain “prohibited animal parts,” such as teeth or tusks from elephants, hippopotamuses, mammoths and whales, and horns from rhinoceroses.
Now, as of Wednesday, it will also be illegal to trade in such parts within Minnesota’s borders. The prohibition is part of a new law incorporated in the state omnibus environment and natural resources bill that passed in May.
Exceptions will be made for cultural artifacts, antiques, musical instruments and specimens used for law enforcement or for educational and scientific purposes.
Violators will be prosecuted and the contraband forfeited to be destroyed or given to a nonprofit for educational or scientific use.