Health reform progresses in Minnesota

Projects intended to grow community-based services and increase independence are moving forward under the Department of Human Services’ Reform 2020 plan.

Loren Colman, assistant commissioner of continuing care at the department, shared the plan’s status with the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee on Thursday.

Reform 2020 comes from legislation in 2011 that required the department to redesign parts of Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program, Colman explained. The goal, said Colman, is to “address pressures that are within the system while maintaining our commitment to a quality long-term program.”

Colman named multiple core themes of the plan that were developed with the input of stakeholders, including:

  • Community-based services and a commitment to older adults and people with disabilities
  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Investment in and support people at critical transitions in their lives
  • Promotion of consumer choice

Reform 2020 consists of several programs currently at different stages of development, some of which the Legislature has approved.

Examples of programs in Reform 2020

One project will create a toll-free number state residents can use to report suspected cases of maltreatment of vulnerable adults. The number is expected to be open for use by Jan. 1, 2015, Colman said.

Another project Colman highlighted is the Alternative Care program, the purpose of which is to help people stay at home and lessen their use of Medical Assistance services. This is a program that received federal financial participation starting Nov. 1, 2013.

An employment project would target certain groups, such as younger adults with mental illness or potential disabilities or who are leaving foster care, individuals enrolled in Medical Assistance for employed people with disabilities and those transitioning from the Department of Corrections, Colman said. Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) said it also should target students who are leaving K-12 special education programs for the workforce so they are not simply placed into sheltered workshop type jobs.

“We, as a state, are not doing really well with our special ed populations and the transition programs coming out of the K-12 program,” Loeffler said.

Other projects mentioned in Colman’s update included: intensive services for children with autism, community first services and supports, a report card for home and community-based services and individual community living support for seniors.

The Housing Stability Services Demonstration, which would have served homeless individuals on Medical Assistance who have high health costs, did not receive federal financial participation and will not continue, Colman said.

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    Andrea Parrott's picture
    Andrea Parrott

    Andrea Parrott is a freelance writer from the 'burbs. (Twitter: @andrea_parrott)