May 16—A Courtland family's journey to change state law ended in success Wednesday after Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill that would allow emergency personnel to administer complex medicine to patients with rare diseases.
"We know there are families across the state that are going to be positively affected by this," Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, said.
Frentz and Rep. Jeff Brand, DFL-St. Peter, sponsored legislation that takes away liability for emergency personnel who administer complex medicine. Major ambulance providers already have plans for emergency personnel to administer some complex medicine, but rural providers in Greater Minnesota are still concerned about liability issues.
Regulatory board officials are required as part of the bill to make recommendations on how to implement new liability requirements to the Legislature by the end of the year.
The measure was introduced after Curtis and Deann Johnson of Courtland approached lawmakers in 2016 to allow emergency responders to treat their 9-year-old daughter, Bailey, in case she's ever in crisis. Responders can give simple medicine such as an Epipen, but only doctors can administer more complex medicine because of legal liability issues.
The Johnsons had never tried to lobby the state before, but a scare at an outdoor festival in 2016 where paramedics told the Johnsons they couldn't help Bailey made Deann and Curtis realize Bailey's life could be in danger if she were far from home.
Deann Johnson said Thursday she and her family felt "total relief" the bill's legislative process is finished. While they understand lawmakers and medical experts will further debate how best to address the new emergency personnel liability rules, the Johnsons are pleased the state is trying to take care of people with rare diseases like Bailey.
"We're just thrilled this is happening," Deann Johnson said.
Frentz said the new law was only possible through bipartisan effort. Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, carried the bill in the Senate and Senate GOP leadership agreed earlier this month to strip the measure out of an omnibus health and human services budget and pass it on its own merits.