Legislature approves bipartisan health and human services policy package

A package of health and human services policy proposals agreed upon by House and Senate conference committee members passed the Legislature this week and is on its way to the governor for signature. As the committee waited for budget targets, they selected non-controversial provisions and same or similar items from the Senate and House HHS omnibus bills to include in the conference report.

Notable items included in the committee report are:

  • Updates to the Office of Medical Cannabis program to include raw flower;
  • Extending the Governor’s Council on an Age-Friendly Minnesota;
  • Removing mandatory prenatal substance use reporting requirements by health providers if the patient or baby is receiving care;
  • Protections against discrimination for people with disabilities in organ transplant decisions;
  • Policy related to the federal Family First Prevention Services Act focused on reforming our child protection system;
  • First steps of the Mental Health Uniform Service Standards project that will simplify and standardize mental health licensing and regulatory requirements.
  • Direction to the Department of Human Services to develop a Medicaid-reimbursable recuperative care service, focused on addressing medical stabilization for people experiencing homelessness.

There’s no spending in this bill due to the last-minute announcement of budget targets. The new budget target agreed upon by Governor Walz and House and Senate Leadership is set at $100 million per biennium over base. This is a significant increase from the zero-budget target originally set by Senate Leadership, but far below the nearly $350 million HHS budget in the House. Members have a lot of work ahead to find agreement on the remaining budget and policy items in the two bills, as well as decisions on how best to use the large pots of federal money coming into MN that will be directed towards areas like child care, mental and behavioral health, and home-and community-based services. (HF 2128)