HHS Omnibus Budget Bill Passes Senate Floor
Legislation invests in children, addresses health crises, and supports aging adults
St. Paul, Minn. – The Health and Human Services Omnibus Budget passed the Senate Floor yesterday, advancing the path to investing $43.3 million in programs that support vulnerable Minnesotans, including children and older adults. The bill funds ongoing initiatives to address health crises in Minnesota, refines previously vetted ideas, and supports highly-valued programs.
The bill invests $26 million in 2017 to support at-risk youth and their families, fund foster care program improvements, increase access to affordable child care, and enhance health coverage for asthma and autism. These investments are absent from the bill rolled out by House Republicans. The Senate bill supports highly-valued safety net programs for youth, expands on Safe Harbor options for victims of human trafficking, and increases the funding for homeless youth.
“This budget invests in the future of our health care delivery system and the programs that Minnesotans know work,” said Senator Jim Carlson (DFL- Eagan). “It makes very critical investments to maintain our workforce and the supports we have in daycare, foster care, and most importantly in our mental health system. It’s a comprehensive budget we can be proud of this year and build upon in the future.”
Minnesota is facing health crises in several areas, including chemical dependency treatment funding, lack of responsive and supportive services for children and families in the foster care system, limited access and funding for mental health services, and the surprise placement of estate liens on some Medical Assistance (MA) recipients’ homes. The 2016 HHS Omnibus Budget Bill builds on last year’s significant investment in mental health services for vulnerable Minnesotans by increasing the number of beds available to people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Focusing on the needs of older Minnesotans, the Omnibus Bill eliminates estate liens which have been leveraged against some MA recipients. It eases federally mandated “spousal impoverishment” guidelines, which, if not addressed, could force some couples into divorce so the ill spouse could continue to receive life-sustaining treatment and the healthy spouse is not driven into poverty.