• February 2019

66th Legislative Session Update

The 2019 Legislative Session is underway. The North Dakota legislature is one of just four states that hold session biennially. Here, the legislature meets for no more than 80 days, with sessions held in the odd numbered years.

Our legislature is comprised of 141 members serving 47 districts. Eighteen new members were elected in November 2018.

A breakdown of our legislators shows:

  • 105 legislators live in cities with populations of 1,500 or more; 36 from towns below 1,500
  • 80% are married
  • 75% have bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 32 are farmers
  • 82% have social media accounts
  • 28 are veterans or service members

Key priorities for BCBSND this session include:

  • Reinsurance—The North Dakota insurance commissioner initiated a study during the interim to analyze viable state-based solutions for the state’s individual health insurance marketplace. The commissioner introduced a bill (HB 1106) to establish a reinsurance pool for the individual health insurance market.
    • BCBSND has been engaged in this legislation as it supports our goal of identifying solutions to stabilize the health insurance market for our members.
  • Medicaid Expansion—This program, initially passed in 2013, provides health coverage for over 20,000 low income adults age 19-64.
    • BCBSND is part of a coalition of 100 health care and community organizations supporting reauthorization in 2019.
  • NDPERS—The current NDPERS contract will expire June 30, 2019. A range of bills impacting governance and benefits have been introduced.
  • Behavioral Health—There are a wide range of behavioral health and substance abuse bills introduced this session.
    • BCBSND is actively engaged is supporting additional access and workforce for behavioral health treatment in North Dakota.
  • Interstate Medical Licensing Compact—The compact is an agreement between 24 states, and one would allow licensed physicians to practice medicine across state lines within the compact if they meet the eligibility requirements. Approximately 80% of physicians meet the criteria for licensure through the IMLC.
  • Workforce—Nationwide, states are competing for workers in high demand professions. Health care is one of the professions experiencing a workforce shortage and is the subject of many bills this session.

One bill asks for $10 million to create a scholarship program with the Bank of North Dakota for students enrolled in high demand or emerging programs. Students could receive grants up to $8,500 per school year, up to a cap of $17,000. It was modeled after South Dakota’s “Build” program

Another bill targets rural communities, providing matching funds through the Department of Commerce to an organization assisting in the recruitment and supply and enhancing the quality and efficiency of personnel providing health services in rural areas.

-   BCBSND is supporting a range of bills aimed at enhancing North Dakota’s workforce.

As the session continues through the end of April, we will continue to engage in legislation impacting our members.