SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Senator Liz Boldon (DFL-Rochester) presented two bills in the Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday evening that would improve mental health care for Minnesotans across the state.
“We have seen a crisis in mental health for Minnesotans across the state, and many are struggling to get the care they need,” said Sen. Boldon. “These bills are essential steps to reducing administrative burdens facing mental health practitioners, and will help recruit and retain the staff we need to deliver these services.”
Burdensome administrative requirements were cited as a reason for staff burnout and reducing staff satisfaction. Senator Boldon’s bill, SF 2449, streamlines regulations and will lessen barriers clients face in accessing care, allowing providers to focus on care delivery to clients and communities, not on paperwork compliance.
“Everywhere you turn you will hear stories of the mental health crisis facing Minnesotans, and our staff are overwhelmed and burdened by the significant needs,” Shannon Brown, CEO of Fernbrook Family Center. “The unprecedented mental health care needs are challenging us to find better ways to do things through administrative simplification and streamlining, and that’s what this bill does.”
Senator Boldon’s second bill, SF 926, would increase outpatient mental health and substance use disorder Medicaid reimbursement rates, which will make it easier to recruit, retain, train, and support mental health staff. Providers have been implementing creative solutions to address the shortfall of quality staff, but raising reimbursement rates are the key to retaining high-quality staff.
“We have seen in this time our therapists moving into private practice or leaving the agency because they can make more money to afford growing expenses in their lives,” Ashleigh Dowess, Director of Clinical Services for Family Services Rochester. “In these private practice settings, there are often limits of the number of clients with Medicaid or MA coverage who are served. The low and unchanging MA rates are not keeping up with expenses, and the impact of increasing these rates would provide us with the opportunity to increase therapists’ salaries, retain staff, and lower our waitlists.”
Both bills were laid over for possible inclusion in a future Health and Human Services omnibus bill.