House HHS bill tries to undo some of the governor’s poor choices


Earlier this week the House Health and Human Services Omnibus bill was passed out of committee. The bill sought to rectify some of the governor’s proposed cuts to the sector and some of the major cuts were reversed.

According to Minnesota Budget Bites, General Assistance — the $203/month for poor single adults without children — was saved. As was the current eligibility requirements for MinnesotaCare for childless adults. Families with a disabled family member, who under the governor’s plan would have lost part of their MFIP grants, will keep this funding. Continuing care providers will not receive a 2.5% permanent rate reduction, as the Governor’s budget proposed. Also saved was Minnesota Supplemental Assistance – Special Diets which helps low-income elderly and disabled adults pay for meals, housing and fees for guardianship. Additionally, some of the cuts to the Critical Access Dental program were reversed.

However, many of the governor’s proposed cuts are still going to happen. Mental health services will lose $22 million. Families on MFIP will lose eligibility for participation when their income reaches 110% of Federal Poverty guidelines. For a family of four, that is an annual income of only $24,255. These families are also not allowed to own a car worth more than $7,500. There will be a restriction on the number of individuals with disabilities that can access home-based Medicaid services. (It should be noted that Genworth Financial just released their annual study on the cost of annual care which found that the cost difference between home care and nursing home care can be as much as $20,000 in MN.) Inpatient hospital reimbursement rates will be cut 7.5% starting in FY 2012, putting additional financial strain on hospitals already struggling to stay financially afloat.

There is no denying the truth: The House did the best they could within the parameters it was given — cut $155 million of the budget. Certain important services were cut — as they had to be, since the money to pay for them simply wasn’t there. And this brings up the greater issue: unless we increase revenues, vital services will be cut. There is no getting around it. As justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society.”

For a more detailed explanation of some of these cuts and programs, click here