Senate HHS Budget Saves Costs, Fund Services, Improves Lives

The Minnesota Senate today approved the state’s Health and Human Services budget which funds critical health & social programs across the state. The budget invests in behavioral and mental health, telehealth, improving maternal outcomes, and giving greater independence for disabled Minnesotans. It passed with broad, bipartisan support.  

“This budget supports initiatives to help working families, especially mothers and their babies,” Senate Health & Human Services Committee Chairwoman Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) said. “Our budget expands access to telehealth which will create greater access to healthcare and lower costs for Minnesotans. There are record investments going into our local public health to help our healthcare system recover after the pandemic. Controlling health care costs is one of Minnesotans’ main priorities. We worked at every step to find innovative ways to deliver savings. We also succeeded in stopping repeated attempts by Governor Walz and the House to expand government-run healthcare.” 

In addition to the investments in health care programs, the HHS budget remains focused on meeting the growing needs of Minnesota’s disability community and ensuring important, helpful programs were not cut. 

“It took all of regular Session, plus a Special Session to accomplish, but we have passed the most monumental HHS bill in memory,” Senate Human Services Reform Chairman Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) said. “We have made massive moves to help Minnesotans with disabilities live more fulfilling lives. Over a hundred thousand people will be touched by greater opportunities to thrive and live independently. The dedicated PCAs and other professionals who serve as caretakers will receive well-deserved raises and those who need their services will have greater access to the care they need to live well. We are changing the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. I could not be prouder of that.” 

The bipartisan package included agreements on how to spend one-time federal funds for people with disabilities, childcare, mental health, substance use disorders (SUD) and emergency assistance. It also includes an extension of the reinsurance program to keep healthcare costs low. 

“Reinsurance is an innovative approach that kept our health care costs low, and it has been incredibly successful. Republicans are committed to keeping reinsurance available as a cost-saving measure,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R- East Gull Lake) said. “More importantly, reinsurance makes sure that Minnesotans have access to some of the lowest health care costs in the country. The important programs, vital medical services, and policy reforms included in this budget will help Minnesotans recover from COVID and support their families.” 

Disability Support 

The HHS budget focused on meeting the growing needs of Minnesota’s disability community and ensuring important, helpful services are available for all.  

This budget broadens availability to programs while making sure the most vulnerable are cared for. It includes a much-needed rate increase for PCA and home care providers. Grants to increase independent living and quality of life among the disability community in Minnesota include Parent-to-Parent Peer Support grants, Customized Living Quality Improvement grants, Home and Community-based Services for Developmental Disabilities, and many more important programs that help these communities. The disability community receives investments and resources for the most meaningful and helpful programs to give each and every person the opportunity to live a good, safe life.  

Mental & Behavioral Health 

The HHS budget prioritizes mental and behavioral health by focusing on the needs of Minnesota youth and increased access to programs. The Children’s Mental Health Residential Treatment Work Group is created in this bill and tasked with developing plans to fund costs of children’s residential treatment and room and board for mental health treatment. The bill also establishes individual treatment plans for children in outpatient services, day treatment, home-based treatment, residential treatment, hospital inpatient treatment, and regional treatment centers that provide mental health services for children. Grants to address mental health and substance abuse in school is included by funding School-Linked Behavioral Health services. Substance Use Disorders for adults are also addressed, establishing a SUD Community of Practice to improve treatment outcomes, and reducing unnecessary paperwork in treatments, and a rate increase for certain substance use programs. 

Mothers & Their Babies 

The Senate fought for and succeeded in providing crucial support for mothers and their young children. Maternal outcomes in the United States lag behind other industrialized nations. Key provisions to support mothers and their babies include funding for home visiting grants to help with nursing, expanded grants for high-risk pregnancies, and a study to improve maternal outcomes. The bill also expands Medical Assistance post-partum eligibility to twelve months and enacts the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. 

Telehealth 

The Senate has strongly advocated to encourage innovations in our health care system. One of the biggest innovations today is the emergence of telehealth care. The bill makes significant investments in the expansion of telehealth services and permanently adds mental health and SUD to the list of eligible services. Health plans in Minnesota will be required to cover benefits delivered through telehealth the same as any other benefit covered in the health plan. The bill also requires MDH and DHS to study the impact of the expansion and payment parity for private health insurance and public health care programs. 

Reinsurance 

Reinsurance is a successful program brought forward in 2017 and the agreed upon budget will continue the program through the 2022 Benefit Year. This section reaffirms the commitment to make healthcare more affordable to all Minnesotans and stabilizes our health insurance market. Through reinsurance, Minnesota has been able to offer some of the lowest health insurance rates in the country. 

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