The Health & Human Services budget addresses the child care crisis in Minnesota and makes historic policy decisions to ensure everyone in Minnesota has access to health care. Additionally, many hidden barriers to accessing health care are removed and IT infrastructure is prioritized in order to modernize Minnesota’s public programs and health care systems.
The Health & Human Services bill also addresses the health care workforce shortage, mental health crisis, and housing crisis through innovative programming and historic funding of shelter infrastructure projects. The bill also ensures that Black Minnesotans, Indigenous folks, and communities of color across the state are directing the solutions to address the needs of their communities and neighbors.
Most importantly, the Health and Human Services budget bill takes care of the Minnesotans who can’t afford to feed their loved ones. The bill supports families that can’t make ends meet because of medical bills. This legislation understands that poverty is a failure of our society and not a failure of the families that struggle to pay their bills. The health and well-being of our communities will be supported for generations because of the DFL Health & Human Services bill.
HEALTH CARE ACCESS
Health Care for All
The Senate DFL majority expanded MinnesotaCare to undocumented noncitizens starting January 1, 2025. Because Medical Assistance is heavily subsidized by the federal government, which continues to obstruct meaningful immigration reform, it is difficult to provide it to undocumented Minnesotans. Expanding coverage for undocumented Minnesotans through MinnesotaCare and using state funds to provide the coverage is operationally easier.
According to the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), about 17.6 percent of uninsured Minnesotans are undocumented noncitizens. This population is unlikely to have access to ongoing health care coverage today, as they are generally barred from most public programs, and currently only qualify for health care coverage (Medical Assistance) during pregnancy, or when they have a medical emergency.
Undocumented children are particularly vulnerable to experiencing poor health outcomes due to a lack of health care coverage and suffer when their caregivers do not have access to health care coverage. Many individuals live in mixed immigration status families that may include lawfully present immigrants, undocumented immigrants, and/or citizens. One in four children has an immigrant parent, including over one in ten (12%) who are citizen children with at least one noncitizen parent.
Providing health care coverage for all undocumented individuals ensures that every family member has access to health care, no matter where they were born. Access to health care coverage for undocumented people will lessen the burden of uncompensated emergency care on hospitals and create healthy communities across Minnesota.
*In addition to access to health care, undocumented Minnesotans and Minnesotans without access to a Social Security Number are eligible for the emergency insulin program.*
*State law now clarifies that federally funded medical assistance and federally funded MinnesotaCare are available to Minnesotans who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.*
DFLers removed the most significant barrier held over by the Senate GOP that prevented Minnesota from implementing a Public Option- the lack of necessary information to move forward. The plan toward a Public Option in Minnesota ensures a well-informed path in two essential steps.
- Collect and model information through a process of data gathering, analysis, and continual assessment of goals.
- Use the data and information for final recommendations and an implementation plan that the Legislature must act on in 2024.
The 1332 waiver application process for federal approval to implement a Public Option already requires an actuarial and economic analysis. Funding is provided for a third party to conduct this necessary step toward a public option. The data-gathering process will assess the following:
- What would the costs likely be for the state to implement and run the public option
- Estimate any impact on the current federal funding Minnesota receives
- Impact on existing enrollees in public programs and private plans
- How to get a successful 1332 waiver, which is required to implement a public option
The Department of Commerce and Human Services will use the actuarial and economic analysis to present a preliminary report that will include an initial framework of the public option health benefit plan and a preliminary implementation plan. A final report will be provided in February 2024 to legislative leaders within the HHS jurisdiction and must provide recommendations for a public option health benefit plan and implementation plan.
The commissioner of commerce’s final recommendation for a public option must include proposed legislation the commissioner anticipates will be necessary to implement the public option by January 1, 2027.
Continuous Coverage for Children and Youth Enrolled in Medical Assistance
The term “churn” is the unnecessary loss of health care coverage or the administratively burdensome transition between types of health insurance. To avoid churn and its negative impacts on health outcomes, children under age 6 will be eligible for continuous Medical Assistance (MA) coverage for a period of up to 72 months. Once a child under age six is determined eligible for Medical Assistance, they will continue to be eligible through the month of their sixth birthday.
In addition, under this proposal, a child aged six through age 20, regardless of the child’s basis of eligibility, would remain eligible for Medical Assistance for a period of up to 12 months.
Eliminate Cost Sharing in Medical Assistance
Soon all Medical Assistance (MA) enrollees will no longer have to pay copays or deductibles. While children and pregnant people are currently excluded from having copays, the elimination of this cost-sharing requirement will allow families with other members enrolled in MA to use those funds for other needs and it will be less confusing for families to navigate. This is a hidden barrier to health care that Senate DFLers are removing that will have a big impact on Minnesotans’ health and well-being.
Reinstate Comprehensive Adult Dental Benefit Set and Rebase Dental Rates
Minnesotans enrolled in Medical Assistance will finally have access again to comprehensive dental coverage. Additionally, for the first time in over 30 years, dental reimbursement rates will reflect current costs and will be updated every three years going forward. Access to health care shouldn’t stop at oral health care and dentists across the state will be better compensated for providing necessary care to Minnesotans.
Establish “Easy Enrollment”
Any Minnesotan who files state income taxes will soon see a simple box to check on their income tax form indicating they or a member of their tax household are currently without health insurance. Clicking the box authorizes the Department of Revenue to share their information with MNsure to determine their potential eligibility for insurance coverage and for MNsure to contact them with the results. After completing the application, households that qualify for private coverage through MNsure would qualify for a special enrollment period that permits the household to enroll if outside the open enrollment period.
Protecting Health Care Coverage
Health care coverage is now protected for certain services and treatments for Minnesotans enrolled in state regulated health plans. Recently, a federal Texas judge found the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) preventive services mandate partially unconstitutional. It is now law for the following health care provisions to be covered:
- Coverage for hearing aids for all individuals with hearing loss for people 18 and older
- A 12-month supply of prescription contraception to prevent pregnancy or for therapeutic reasons
- Biomarker testing
- No out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic services and testing following a mammogram
- Seizure detection devices covered as durable medical equipment in Medical Assistance
- No out-of-pocket costs for HIV treatment and prevention for MinnesotaCare enrollees
- Tobacco and nicotine cessation services and drugs to treat tobacco and nicotine addiction or dependence
- Services related to the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of a rare disease or condition
Health Care Billing Transparency
Because too many Minnesotans are surprised with medical bills they weren’t expecting or don’t have access to available resources, DFLers passed the following requirements:
- Each health care provider and health facility shall comply with the federal No Surprises Act. A person who believes a health care provider or facility has not complied with the requirements of the No Surprises Act can file a complaint. The Department of Health will also have resources to educate consumers about the No Surprises Act and enforce it.
- Now provider-based clinics that charge a facility fee must also provide notice to patients that received care via telehealth services stating that the clinic is part of a hospital and the patient may receive a separate charge or billing for the facility component, which may result in a higher out-of-pocket expense.
- Hospitals must screen a patient who is uninsured or whose insurance coverage status is not known for eligibility for charity care, state or federal public health care programs. A patient may decline the screening process and the hospital must post notice of the availability of charity care.
Health Care Center for Health Care Affordability
The Minnesota Department of Health will conduct research on health care costs drivers and develop strategies for a more sustainable and affordable path forward. The Center will include public input in its research process and provide periodic reports about its findings. Included in the responsibilities of the Center will be new reporting requirements on 340B drug acquisition costs for health care entities that participate in the federal discount program.
Several studies will be implemented to collect data and analyze drug pricing, health care service costs, and health care system impacts on Minnesotans. This information is not only needed to inform consumers but also for policymakers to take action to address the rising costs of health care.
- New data will be collected through the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), such as dental costs and race and ethnicity data and a process will be developed for outside researchers to access the APCD. The APCD is a state repository of de-identified health care claims data which offers opportunities to learn more about the health care services and prescription drug products provided across the state, their costs, and their impacts on health outcomes.
- The Prescription Drug Price Transparency program was expanded to include data reporting by wholesalers, pharmacies, and PBMs.
- A study will be conducted to understand the cost-benefit analysis of a universal health care system in Minnesota.
- Studies will be conducted to analyze the costs and implementation of managed care elimination, managed care opt-out, and pharmacy benefit carveout (340B) for Medical Assistance.
Public Health Emergency Unwinding
$65 million was dedicated to ensuring that thousands of Minnesotans did not lose their health care coverage because of the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) the federal government declared due to COVID-19. During the PHE, 1.5 million Minnesotans did not have to re-enroll yearly for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare for nearly three years. This historic policy change significantly decreased unnecessary loss of health insurance.
The PHE unwinding transition funding was to help with the expected increase in administrative work for the state and counties, hire and train new employees to process the re-determinations, support MNsure Navigators, and update technology as the renewal and enrollment process begins for the first time in three years. DFLers also waived MinnesotaCare premiums for all enrollees from May 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024, and provided the elderly, blind, and people with disabilities on Medical Assistance extra time to spend down their assets to keep their coverage.
DHS will keep the public informed about the progress of the renewal process and coverage changes with regular communications, including web-based dashboards on its Medicaid Matters webpage.
CHILD CARE WORKFORCE AND ACCESS
Great Start Compensation Support Payments
DFLers made a historic investment in the child care workforce through payments directed to the early educators that care for the youngest Minnesotans. The Great Start Compensation Support program will provide direct payments to eligible child care providers to increase their compensation and benefits. This infusion of money will provide a livable wage to an industry where most of the workers are women. The child care field in Minnesota also employs more people of color than many other industries. Overall, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color comprise 23% of the child care workforce compared to only 15% across all Minnesota industries. Child care workers that provide education and care in a variety of settings will be eligible for direct payments, including licensed family and group family child care homes.
Increasing Child Care Access for Child Care Access Program (CCAP)
Families in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) will have more opportunities for child care spots now that CCAP rates have significantly increased. The Health & Human Services budget increased the rates paid in CCAP to the 75th percentile – meaning families should be able to afford 3 out of 4 child care providers within their area. Before the bill was passed, the maximum CCAP rates were set at the 40th percentile of the 2021 market rate survey for infants and toddlers and the 30th percentile of the 2021 market rate survey for preschool and school-aged children. Minnesota’s CCAP rates were one of the nation’s lowest and were a major obstacle for low-income families in CCAP to pursue higher education or a stable income.
Basic Sliding Fee Program Updates
A permanent waitlist reprioritization and increased funding for the Basic Sliding Fee program will serve more families and move families off waiting lists more quickly. The definition of family was also expanded to include certain types of custodians and guardians, in addition to adding foster parents. Basic Sliding Fee (BSF) child care helps families pay for child care while they look for work, go to work, or attend training to prepare for work.
The Health & Human Services budget also included funding for the Retaining Early Educators Through Attaining Incentives Now (R.E.E.T.A.I.N.) program. The REETAIN funding provides a competitive bonus system to incentivize well-trained child care professionals to stay in the workforce and creates more consistent care for children over time.
Establishing and Funding an Early Childhood Apprenticeship Grant Program
The Department of Human Services will partner with the Department of Labor and Industry to begin an apprenticeship grant program to provide employment-based training and mentoring opportunities for early childhood workers. The grants must be used for tuition scholarships for apprentices for courses leading to a higher education degree in early childhood or stipends. Stipends for mentors may be up to $4,000 for each mentee. Stipends for employers may be up to $5,000 for each apprentice employee. An apprentice may receive a higher education scholarship of up to $10,000 for up to 24 months.
Emergency Shelter Capital Investment
$100 million of one-time funding will be used for grants to emergency shelters for projects that will improve or expand emergency shelter facility options. A grant may be used to pay for 100 percent of total project capital expenditures or a specified project phase, with up to $10,000,000 per project. At least 40 percent of the grants must be awarded to projects located in Greater Minnesota.
Increased Funding for Emergency Services
$85 million over the next four years is dedicated to Emergency Service Program (ESP) grants. Increased funding for ESP will provide needed operational support for emergency shelters across the state that are under significant financial strain and allow providers to expand and improve services for people experiencing homelessness. This program provides emergency shelter, motel vouchers, day shelter, and essential services for children, unaccompanied youth, single adults, and families experiencing homelessness.
Direct Funding to Metro Counties
Nearly $23 million will go directly to Hennepin County and Ramsey County to assist them with the transition of the end of the Public Health Emergency and the loss of federal COVID-19 funding. The COVID-19 pandemic increased housing instability, and a significant amount of people experiencing housing insecurity sought resources in the Metro area. This direct funding will help the Metro communities continue the innovative programming they developed to address the influx of people that came from across the state that experienced housing insecurity when COVID-19 hit Minnesota.
Homeless Youth Act
Minnesota nearly tripled its investment in addressing homeless youth by directing $60.5 million to the Homeless Youth Act program over the next four years in the DFL Health & Human Services budget. The Homeless Youth Act was established in 2006 and allows the Department of Human Services to provide grants for a variety of programming to help homeless youth. Services can include street and community outreach and drop-in programs, emergency shelter programs, and integrated supportive housing and transitional living programs to reduce the incidence and consequences of homelessness among youth.
$12 million over the next four years is dedicated to transitional housing programs. Transitional Housing programs provide rental subsidies and supportive services to homeless individuals and families to obtain and maintain permanent, stable housing. Funding would also support culturally specific transitional housing units and programming, which should help reduce the state’s racial disparities in housing. Lastly, increased funding will help respond to the rate of inflation among rents and complement the recent legislative change that increased this program enrollment from 24 months to 36 months.
Safe Harbor Grants
DFLers formally established The Safe Harbor Shelter and Housing Grant Program and provided ongoing funding. The grants under this program are focused on providing short-term shelter or longer-term housing with supportive services specifically designed to serve youth under 24 years old who have experienced sexual exploitation and/or sex trafficking. The goals for the increased funding include reaching new geographic areas through funding a regional navigator in northwest Minnesota. Additionally, the increase in funding will enhance services to underserved populations.
Homeless Youth Cash Stipend Pilot Program
$5 million of one-time funding is used to establish a pilot program for the Homeless Youth Cash Stipend pilot program. The program directs cash to homeless youth between ages 18-24 in Hennepin and St. Louis counties. The pilot project must be designed to meet the needs of homeless youth, including those who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer. The Department of Human Services (DHS) will partner with Youthprise to administer and outline criteria for the program. DHS, in cooperation with Youthprise, will submit a final report on findings regarding the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the homeless youth cash stipend pilot project.
Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)
DFLers established ongoing funding for the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Previously, the State did not consistently fund HMIS. HMIS is a web-based database used by over 220 homeless service organizations across the state of Minnesota to collect client-level data on households experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Ongoing funding will alleviate financial pressures on service providers and enhance the system’s capacity to target state and federal homelessness resources more strategically. This investment will be instrumental in helping the state better understand the homeless population and connect individuals and families to needed resources.
Recuperative Care Services
Medical Assistance now covers recuperative care services, which is a model of care that prevents hospitalization or that provides post-acute medical care and support services for recipients experiencing homelessness. Recuperative care may be provided in any setting, including but not limited to homeless shelters, congregate care settings, single-room occupancy settings, or supportive housing.
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness Grants
$20 million over four years is dedicated to increasing the funding for the Project for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) grants. The PATH program serves people with serious mental illness or co-occurring substance use disorder who experience barriers to housing. These individuals are often difficult to locate, contributing to the difficulty of providing for their basic needs. The PATH grant helps connect people to services with the intent of transitioning them out of homelessness. The expanded funding will enable more providers to provide services and increase funding for existing providers.
HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Nurse and Patient Safety Act
The Nurse and Patient Safety Act establishes one of the strongest workplace protections for nurses in the country. A hospital is now required to create and implement a procedure for a health care worker to officially request that hospital supervisors or administration provide additional staffing and must provide that information to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
The Act strengthens an existing law that requires hospitals to have a committee to develop a Preparedness and Incident Response Action Plan. The new law standardizes the requirements, review process, and responsibilities of the Action Plan Committee to provide uniform data collection with the Department of Health (MDH). Beginning January 1, 2025, a hospital must annually submit to MDH its most recent Action Plan and the results of the most recent annual review. Beginning January 15, 2026, MDH must compile the information into a single annual report and submit the report to the Legislature by January 15 each year.
MDH is also required to publicize a report on the status of the state’s nursing workforce employed by hospitals by January 1, 2026. Additionally, MDH has the funding and responsibility to ensure hospitals comply with the nurse workforce report and the Action Plan reporting and duty requirements.
The Nurse and Patient Safety Act also adds child care costs as an expense for the nursing facility scholarship program. Finally, the Act adds “hospital nurse” and “educators for hospital nursing” to the Health Professional Education Loan Forgiveness Program.
Long-Term Care Workforce Grants for New Americans and Legal and Social Services
Nearly $50 million is dedicated to grants to help New Americans interested in joining the long-term care workforce access training and connect to the industry. Funding this program will also connect LTC businesses with a trained, skilled, and culturally diverse workforce.
In addition to LTC workforce supports for New Americans, a portion of the funding will help New Americans by helping them to access resources and legal services. Connecting New Americans to social services will help lessen the administrative roadblocks that prevent New Americans from maintaining legal or citizenship status, which is important to legally obtain or retain employment in any field or industry.
Workplace Safety Grants for Health Care Entities
One-time funding of over $4 million is directed to grants that will be used to increase safety measures in certain health care settings and establish or expand programs to train staff in health care settings on de-escalation and positive support services.
Grants to Expand Health Care Workforce
$42 million is directed toward grants to help develop and support the health care workforce. Funding is focused on multiple health care sectors and clinical settings, such as grants for rural clinical training and mental health providers.
Clinical Dental Education Innovation Grants
DFLers continue to prioritize oral health care as essential care by directing $3.6 million to clinical dental education innovation grants for teaching institutions and clinical training sites for projects that increase dental access for underserved populations and promote innovative clinical training of dental professionals.
The DFL Health & Human Services budget directed nearly $65 million over the next four years toward public health programming and infrastructure building. Investing in public health is essential in order to support healthy families and communities across Minnesota. A significant portion of this increased funding will help local entities carry out the most basic and foundational public health responsibilities. $2.5 million is dedicated to the State’s public health contingency account for emergency purposes. Funding will also help provide grants for the following:
- Support Long COVID Survivors and Monitoring the Impact of Long COVID
- Lead Remediation in Schools and Child Care Centers
- Uninsured/Underinsured Adult Vaccine Program
- Alzheimer’s Disease Public Information Program
HEALTH EQUITY & COMMUNITY-CENTERED GRANTS FOR BLACK, INDIGENOUS, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR POPULATIONS IN MINNESOTA
Equitable Health Care Task Force
$1.5 million will be used to begin the Equitable Health Care Task Force. The task force will examine the prevalence and types of inequitable experiences of care that occur in Minnesota based on race, ethnicity, preferred language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, age, or culture. The twenty-member task force appointed by the Commissioner of Health will consist of people from the communities that experience disparities in health care (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, etc.). The task force will make recommendations to the Legislature for changes in health care system practices or health insurance regulations that would address identified issues.
Health Equity Advisory and Leadership Council
Ongoing funding is directed to the Health Equity Advisory and Leadership (HEAL) Council which will assist the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) in efforts to advance health equity in Minnesota. The HEAL council will consult with MDH on specific agency policies and programs, providing ideas and input about potential budget and policy proposals, and recommend a review of agency policies, standards, or procedures that may create or perpetuate health inequities.
Cultural Communications Program
$4.6 million is dedicated over the next four years to the Cultural Communications Program at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The new program will advance culturally and linguistically appropriate communication services for communities most impacted by health disparities.
Access to information is a critical part of addressing health disparities. This program would standardize processes at MDH to maintain the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (NCLAS). The program will also coordinate translation and American Sign Language (ASL) / Computer Assisted Real-time Translation (CART) services for the agency to ensure messaging resonates with cultural communities to advance health equity.
Office of African American Health
$8.7 million over the next four years will be used to establish the Office of African American Health to address the unique health needs of Black Minnesotans and work to develop solutions to address identified disparities in Black health. The Office will establish and convene an African American Health State Advisory Council (AAHSAC) to advise the Commissioner of Health on issues and to develop specific, targeted policy solutions to improve the health of US born Black Minnesotans. Other important work of the Office will include community engagement programs and creating programs to improve the diversity of the public health workforce.
Office of American Indian Health
$8.2 million will be used to build upon and strengthen capacity of the MDH Office of American Indian Health (OAIH). The office will work with Minnesota’s American Indian tribal communities to address long-standing health disparities. OAIH will provide consulting, evaluation, expertise, and training on MDH operations and policies. American Indian Special Emphasis grants will also be distributed through the Office of American Indian Health.
The Health and Human Services budget directed funding to a variety of grant programs that ensure Black Minnesotans, Indigenous folks, and communities of color across the state are the people directing the solutions within their own communities. The grant programs are centered on reducing disparities and connecting Minnesotans to resources. Examples of the grants include:
- Wilder Foundation for African American Babies Coalition will receive a grant to provide training and education on best practices to support the healthy development of babies during pregnancy and postpartum.
- Emmett Louis Till Victims Recovery Program grants will help provide health and wellness services, remembrance and legacy preservation activities, cultural awareness services, spiritual and faith-based support, and community resources for victims who experienced trauma and their families and heirs.
- Cultural and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure grants will be used to help recruit more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color providers working in mental health and substance use disorder care. The intent is to provide more culturally responsive behavioral health care by building a more diverse workforce and providing culturally specific outreach, early intervention, trauma-informed services, and recovery support in mental health and substance use disorder services.
- Community Solutions grants will help organizations provide programming to improve child development outcomes related to the well-being of children of color and American Indian children from prenatal to grade 3 and their families.
- Family, Friend, Neighbor (FFN) Child Care grant program provides culturally and linguistically appropriate training, support, and resources to FFN caregivers and children’s families to improve and promote children’s health, safety, nutrition, and learning.
- Special Guerilla Units Veterans and Families of the USA will receive a grant for programming and for culturally specific and specialized assistance to support special guerilla unit veterans’ health and well-being.
Rate Increase for Mental Health Services
The Health & Human Services budget addressed the pressure on emergency mental health systems by increasing the Medical Assistance mental health services rate. A 3% rate increase for outpatient mental health services will be implemented and indexed to inflation going forward. This new rate methodology will eventually increase over time and be at a higher rate than 8%, the rate that mental health advocates requested. The rate will be in effect until the new mental health rate methodology study is implemented. Increasing the mental health services rates will build the continuum of community-based mental health care that is a key piece of the health care system.
Adult Day Treatment Services Rate Increase
Effective June 30, 2023, a 50% rate increase for Adult Mental Health Day Treatment will be implemented to urgently address the mental health crisis. Adult mental health day treatment is a critical service to support people with mental illnesses who need ongoing and intensive treatment. This service helps people who need hospitalization and helps keep their condition stable.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
$3.6 million is dedicated to building capacity for Lifeline Centers, which are designated 988 crisis centers which are now codified into law with the passage of the 2023 Health & Human Services budget bill. Lifeline Centers answer mental health crisis calls, texts, and chats 24/7 from across the state. A 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline special revenue account is also established, in which 988 fees will be deposited and appropriated. Funding from the special revenue account will be used to maintain and improve the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and to maintain a statewide suicide prevention crisis system. The fee structure is similar to how fees are collected for 911 calls.
On July 16, 2022, the United States transitioned to the use of a new three-digit dialing code, 9-8-8, to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Lifeline Centers will need to increase staffing capacity to adequately meet the demand for 988 services, which is expected to increase significantly over time. It is critical that the state maintains and sustains its capacity to answer 988 contacts in-state to ensure Minnesotans receive local support during vital moments of crisis or distress.
Mobile Crisis Grants and Tribal Mobile Crisis Grants
$18 million will be used to continue the mobile crisis grant program which helps mental health professionals and practitioners provide psychiatric services to individuals, both adults and children. Services are provided within their homes and at other community sites outside the traditional clinical setting. Mobile crisis grants support people experiencing a mental health crisis by connecting them to professionals that attempt to stabilize them without the need to enter a hospital. This service complements and partners with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline services.
First Episode of Psychosis
$2.7 million of ongoing funding willexpand the First Episode Psychosis (FEP) program to increase service capacity, expand geographic availability, and develop new treatment teams to serve increased numbers of young adults experiencing the debilitating effects of psychosis. “Psychosis” describes conditions that affect the mind when there has been some loss of contact with reality. Studies have shown that it is common for a person to have psychotic symptoms for more than a year before receiving treatment. First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs serve people 15 to 40 years old with early signs of psychosis. The increased funding will help prevent people experiencing psychosis from hospitalization or unsafe situations.
Mental Health Workforce
$2.5 million is dedicated to loan forgiveness for mental health professionals and $800,000 is provided to the Primary Care Residency Expansion Grant Program to add one more psychiatry resident to the program.
School-Linked Behavioral Health Grants
DFLers directed $23 million in additional funding for school-linked behavioral health grants. Under Minnesota’s model of school-linked behavioral health, community mental health agencies place mental health professionals and practitioners in partnering schools and school districts to provide direct behavioral health services to students. This investment will serve approximately 8,100 students who are in need of behavioral health services in more than 1,100 school sites across Minnesota.
Mental Health System Changes
Many programs and guidelines were updated in the Health & Human Services budget. A few of them include:
- Minors 16 years old or older will be able to consent to outpatient health and mental health services
- The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) will pay for child care for low-income parents living with a mental illness who can’t work or pursue training or education. This will help parents with mental illness access treatment while their children are safely playing and learning.
- Funding for an online behavioral health program locator will be used to develop a “bed tracker” to helpidentify where mental health services are available in real-time. This will support people that are discharged from the hospital by identifying open placement options.
Repeal the Diversionary Work Program
DFLers repealed a costly barrier to resources for low-income families named the Diversionary Work Program (DWP). The Diversionary Work Program (DWP) is a 4-month program that was focused on helping Minnesota parents find a job to prevent them from needing to access the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). MFIP is the state’s welfare program for low-income families with children. There is little to no evidence that shows the DWP is successful and the operation of the DWP program is not worth the administrative cost. Now low-income families will have a simpler and more streamlined process to access needed resources.
MFIP Reform and COLA for Housing Assistance
The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) was significantly changed to streamline the application and administrative process. The DFL Health & Human Services budget also included a yearly cost of living adjustment (COLA) to the MFIP housing assistance grant. The new policy to include COLA for this program will put into motion an automatic increase that will continue to incrementally improve the well-being of families living in deep poverty. Changes were also made to incentivize compliance with the program requirements rather than penalize enrollees.
MFIP families receive cash and food assistance which had antiquated procedural requirements that are not uniform with other public assistance programs. Simplifying the reporting requirements, aligning budgeting methods with nationwide best practices, and encouraging earned income and employment will create equity across the program.
General Assistance Benefit Increase & Program Updates
DFLers also eliminated the administratively costly and time-consuming requirements of redetermining benefits every month for General Assistance for individuals with an earned income of $100 per month, which is now every six months. The Health & Human Services budget also increased the monthly benefit for General Assistance for the first time since 1986 and included adjustments for inflation going forward. General Assistance supports childless adults or children who live in deep poverty. A single and childless adult would receive $203 on GA, but now they will receive $350 per month.
Diaper Distribution Grants
$2 million in ongoing funding will go toward a new grant program that will award competitive grants to entities that provide diapers and wipes to under-resourced families statewide.
Establishing a Department of Children, Youth, and Families
The Health and Human Services budget included funding to help with the establishment and transition to a new agency titled the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Minnesota will begin the process of transitioning existing state programs and services to a new agency focused on the early years and families. It will be a two-year process of moving core child, youth, and family support divisions to a new agency that would begin in July 2024.
The core programs considered to move into the new agency include:
• Child care and early learning programs
• Child support, child safety and permanency, and other family-focused community programs
• Economic support and food assistance programs
• Youth opportunity and older youth investments
Minnesota Food Shelf Program Funding Increase & Allowable Expense Update
The DFL Health and Human Services budget adds $6 million in ongoing annual spending to the Minnesota Food Shelf Program. With increased funds, current and new grantees representing nonprofits and Tribal Nations throughout the state of Minnesota will be able to receive an increase in funds or a new grant to support food security. Food Shelves in Minnesota can also use the funding to purchase personal hygiene supplies, such as menstrual products and diapers. In 2022, Minnesota had 1.9 million more food shelf visits than the previous record set in 2020. With the uncertainty of food assistance requirements changes from the federal government, it is likely that more Minnesotans will need access to a food shelf soon.
Capital Projects for Food Shelf and Tribal Nation Food Programs Facilities $7 million of one-time spending will be used to improve the infrastructure of food shelf and Tribal Nation food program facilities. This investment will allow local food shelves to improve and expand options to meet the increasing needs of Minnesotans experiencing food insecurity.