Miller: Senate approves significant funding for Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center and other mental health and disability service providers

The Minnesota Senate recently approved a comprehensive health and human services budget that prioritizes funding for critical programs such as mental health service providers, including the Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center, which has locations in Caledonia, Red Wing, Rushford, Wabasha, and Winona.

“The lack of safe and affordable housing is one of the most challenging barriers people face in their journey toward recovery,” said Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), who advocated for the funding. “When folks struggling with mental illness do not have stable housing, they tend to cycle in and out of homelessness, jails, shelters, and hospitals. We are providing support to help individuals living with mental illness, so they can continue or begin their path to recovery and a healthy future.”

Mental health conditions are unique in diagnoses and symptoms and often interfere with a person’s daily life and activities, including maintaining steady employment or paying rent and utilities on a regular basis. The bill provides a supplemental for a supplementary services rate of $750 per month in addition to the monthly room and board rate in order to continue to support individuals who are struggling. 

The bill also 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
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