Aging Adults, Minnesotans with Disabilities, Mental Health Issues Prioritized in GOP Bill

SAINT PAUL, MN – On Thursday, House Republicans unveiled their Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus bill authored by HHS Finance Chair Matt Dean (R-Dellwood). The legislation protects the most vulnerable, while expanding access to quality, affordable care for all Minnesotans.

“Our omnibus bill seeks to reconnect Minnesotans with the best health care in the country. Sadly, in recent years that care that has been unavailable to many due to high cost, red tape and long lines,” said Rep. Dean. “Minnesota must lead, not follow in health care. That’s our Minnesota heritage. We are well positioned to reclaim our place as the state that leads when it comes to providing the best care in the world at some of the lowest costs.”

“This bill will continue providing critical services to those who need it most, and works to bend the cost curve to ensure health care costs don’t grow exponentially faster than the budgets of the families who fund it,” said Rep. Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley), Chair of the Health and Human Services Reform Committee. “This bill also makes strategic investments in programs to help expand access to care and services for thousands of Minnesotans across the state.”

A top priority for House Republicans this session is improving aging adults’ quality of life. This legislation provides real reform to facilities that care for our elderly by implementing a statewide rate of reimbursement – which will strongly assist nursing homes in Greater Minnesota, improve the wages of care providers and provide a permanent solution to statewide nursing home needs

“This legislation provides a major investment in nursing homes, establishes a sustainable reimbursement system, and encourages our workforce to consider a career in long-term care,” said State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne), Chairman of the Minnesota House Aging and Long Term Care Policy Committee. “There’s no doubt these changes will help improve the quality of care our seniors deserve.”

Additionally, this legislation values Minnesota’s disabled and vulnerable, as well as those who care for them. It provides a one-time five percent cost of living adjustment for home and community based care workers and also restores funding for the Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities Program to reduce their premium payments.

Next, the legislation addresses the mental health crisis in our state. The bill provides for more psychiatric beds which are critically needed. It funds suicide prevention and mental health care training as well, teaching techniques to help de-escalate mental health crises, protecting patients and health care professionals.

Lastly, the HHS Omnibus bill funds the Safe Harbor Program and the Homeless Youth Act, protecting victims of violence and sexual abuse.

As House Republicans look to bring government spending more in line with family budgets, this legislation works to eliminate waste and abuse by no longer paying entitlement benefits for people who do not qualify for them.  The Department of Human Services will be given new authority to detect and collect on the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on unnecessary or illegal payments.

Minnesota Care II will provide a choice of private Minnesota health insurance plans to those currently enrolled in a one-size-fits-all Basic Health Plan (BHP). The BHP was negotiated as part of the federal health care expansion implemented by Governor Dayton in 2011.  The cost of that care has been extremely expensive as Minnesotans have had to pick up the tab many thought the federal government would cover.  This reform reins in health care costs while still offering federal and state assistance to low income Minnesotans. This will provide quality, private health insurance plans within a budget that is paid for.

“While other states look to Washington D.C., Minnesotans are looking to each other for real solutions, and they are finding them,” Dean concluded.

This budget bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee this week.


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