Senate Republicans gave the Health and Human Services Budget zero dollars to spend. At a time when we have a budget surplus, Minnesotans want to see visionary proposals as we continue to face serious health disparities, high prescription drug costs, and limited access to comprehensive, high quality health care. None of these goals are addressed in the Health and Human Services Omnibus Budget Bill that passed off the floor of the Senate this week.
With no additional general fund money dedicated to health and human services in their budget target, Senate Republicans are making it clear they won’t invest in sustainable resources Minnesotans need, like health care, homelessness supports, and affordable prescription drugs. Their bills are propped up by risky and unnecessary budgeting strategies that will undoubtedly create budget shortfalls in future sessions. In contrast, the House has over $300 million more dedicated towards HHS spending.
This bill continues an expensive reinsurance program without offering a vision for what the future of health care in our state might look like. There is money for an unclear drug reimportation program but no reforms that address the sky-high cost of prescription drugs. It also ignores needed funding for our state agencies, who have worked overtime during this pandemic to keep people safe.
Positive additions to this bill, including extending postpartum Medical Assistance coverage and offering new grants for people with disabilities are offset by unnecessary and harsh cuts to public health programs. For example, this bill would cut over half of the state funding to the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), a program used by counties, Tribal Nations, and nonprofit partners to promote active living, healthy eating and commercial tobacco-free living. It also has dangerous and unnecessary licensing requirements for clinics that provide abortion services, further inserting politicians into people’s health care decisions.
Senate DFLers will continue to advocate for the change Minnesotans need as this bill moves to conference committee. (SF 2360)