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 and Human Services while ensuring agency accountability to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.  

“Our budget provides stability and accountability,” said Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake). “We support initiatives to help working families, especially mothers and their babies, while working to stop government waste. We invest in our local public health and help Minnesotans recover from the global pandemic. I focused my energy on programs with proven results and made sure we implement accountability measures, so every taxpayer dollar is accounted for.” 

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, including Canada. Additionally, the bill builds off of Pharmacy Benefit Manager 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 Medical Assistance 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 finds millions of dollars in savings to slow the massive growth in Health & Human Services costs and uses the savings 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 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.  

“As elected legislators, we must put people first,” Senator Jim Abeler (Anoka), Chair of the HSR Committee, said Thursday. “COVID has ravaged the lives of people with disabilities and those who provide services that help them thrive. This legislation will help maintain critical services for over 100,000 people who rely on their neighbors for their very lives. With funding and system changes for people with disabilities, increased resources for mental health, and the expansion of child care assistance we can do so much good throughout the state of Minnesota. I am proud of the budget we have put together this year and look forward to seeing the good it brings to our state.” 

The investments in the services for Minnesotans with disabilities help them live with greater independence. The spending in the state’s childcare programs is 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 Personal Care Assistant 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 Substance Use Disorder Grants so our students who have been through a tumultuous year of pandemic strain are supported. 
  • After a year of COVID-driven stress, increased funding for mental health in the budget will help Minnesotans cope. 
  • Funding for court-appointed counsel in child protection cases.