Senate HHS Committees review Governor’s Budget

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This week the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Human Services Reform Committee reviewed Governor Dayton’s budget recommendations relating to health and human services issues. Highlights of the Governor’s proposals include:

MinnesotaCare Public Option: $12.9 million in one-time start-up funding

Currently, MNCare is available for Minnesotans who earn between 133% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) ($32,398 to $48,600 for a family of four). Due to the rising premium increases and the limited number of participating health plans on the individual market, Minnesotans over 200% of FPG need more affordable and accessible health insurance options. This plan would increase choices, encourage competition in the marketplace, and ensure that all Minnesotans have access to affordable insurance with a comprehensive network of health care providers. If the Legislature approved this plan by April 1, Minnesotans could begin to purchase MNCare plans during the 2018 open enrollment period.

MA Rate Increase for Preventive Care and Outpatient Mental Health Services: $9.6 million

The Governor proposes a 5% rate increase for preventive medical care and outpatient mental health services in the Medical Assistance (MA) fee-for-service program. In some cases across the state, the current reimbursement rates do not cover the costs of providing services. Increasing the payment rate for MA preventive care services and mental health care provides an incentive for more medical practitioners to provide care for MA recipients. Both preventive care and mental health care are vitally important in improving the health outcomes of MA enrollees.

Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP): $73.5 million

The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) helps families pay for child care so parents can maintain employment or go to school and helps prepare kids for school readiness. Each month, the program serves 16,000 families and 30,000 children across the state. This proposal invests $73.5 million in FY 2018-19 to improve CCAP. This is part of a larger package of early childhood initiatives proposed by the Governor to support family stability and improve school readiness.

St. Peter Security Hospital: $25.4 million

Many of the individuals in the security hospital have complicated diagnoses, experienced multiple treatment failures, and can no longer be treated in less restrictive settings. The $25.4 million appropriation would hire additional clinical and security staff and improve staff recruitment, retention, and training.

Child Protection Improvements: $19.6 million

Based on recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children, the Legislature made several changes to the state’s child protection system in 2015. This proposal strengthens those changes by focusing on statewide practice standards so children’s experiences with child welfare, foster care, and paths to permanency are more uniform statewide.

Family Home Visiting Program: $31 million

The Governor recommends expanding the home visiting program to pregnant and parenting teens under age 20. Current state funding for this program is only able to reach about 20% of home visiting needs for pregnant and teen parents. After fully phased-in over three years, the program will serve an additional 3,659 pregnant and teen parents every year, about 70% of all births to teen parents. Home visiting helps teen parents and their children get a strong start and improves the economy through higher graduation rates, decreased incarceration rates, improved school readiness, and healthier children.

Vulnerable Adult Act Enforcement: $1.2 milion

This appropriation will expand the state’s Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) to keep pace with the seven-fold increase in maltreatment complaints of vulnerable adults in licensed health care and home care settings. The number of maltreatment complaints has grown by nearly 600% since FY 2010 due to the state’s rapidly aging population. Current funding for the OHFC is sufficient to investigate only 10% of maltreatment complaints and 1% of provider self-reports alleging maltreatment.