Chamberlain: Senate Passes Family-Focused Health & Human Services Budget That Improves Health Care Access & Affordability

Today, the Minnesota Senate passed a Families-Focused Health & Human Services Budget Bill. The legislation supplies critical funding for the Departments of Health (MDH) and Human Services (DHS) while ensuring agency accountability to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. 

“The pandemic has been extremely challenging for Minnesotans, and one of the most harmful effects is the increase in mental health struggles and substance use disorders,” said Senator Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes). “The Senate’s Health and Human Services budget helps those Minnesotans who are struggling, as well as lowers health care costs for families and improves price transparency.”

This bill lowers costs for prescription drugs by improving drug price transparency and allowing the importation of lower cost, FDA-approved drugs from partner countries. Additionally, the bill builds off of Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) reforms from previous sessions to help cut out unnecessary middlemen and rein in drug costs while supporting our local pharmacies.

The budget focuses on working families by improving maternal and newborn care with in-home nurse visits, extending MA coverage for enrollees after delivery of a baby, and requiring a regular report on maternal and infant health. Maternal outcomes have been worsening in the United States and this report will help identify what changes could ensure women have healthier deliveries. 

The Senate budget implements millions of dollars in savings to slow the massive growth in Health & Human Services costs so we have the resources to invest in critical needs like local public health and childcare services.

Appropriations for the Human Services Reform budget are also included in the HHS budget. With considerable amounts of federal funding made available for Human Services programs through the American Rescue Plan, increased funding will go to existing federal block grants such as Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Child Care and Development Block Grants. 

The investments in the services for Minnesotans with disabilities aim to help them live with greater independence. The spending in the state’s childcare programs are targeted to keeping more providers in business while getting children high quality care to prepare them for success when they enter elementary school. 

Other highlighted provisions include:  

  • A PCA rate increase of roughly 20% over the Governor’s proposal, leading to more disabled Minnesotans living in their communities with their families
  • Appropriations for Home and Community Based Service Providers to help provide affordable care to people with health conditions in their own homes
  • School-linked Mental Health Grants and School-Linked SUD Grants so our students who have been through a tumultuous year of pandemic strain are supported.
  • Increased funding to mental health grants 
  • Funding for court-appointed counsel in child protection cases