Omnibus health and human services law strikes a positive balance for fiscal year

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An omnibus health and human services law lays out a path for reform in several health care sectors, and restores or delays some of the cuts made in 2011 to balance the state budget.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) and Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), the law authorizes spending $18.1 million.

Because the bill accounts for $35 million in repayments from managed care organizations, whose gross revenues were capped at 1 percent, there is a positive balance of $16.8 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.

Except where otherwise noted, the law takes effect Aug. 1, 2012.

Welfare reform initiatives

  • Restricting electronic benefit transfer cash card uses to Minnesota and surrounding states;
  • disqualifying anyone found guilty of using an EBT card to purchase tobacco or alcohol for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense and permanently for the third offense;
  • allowing data sharing between the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Human Services for purposes of preventing welfare fraud, effective July 1, 2013;
  • stopping landlord vendor payments on public assistance rent for convicted drug felons when the shelter is deemed uninhabitable;
  • looking back 10 years for felony drug offenses when determining eligibility for Minnesota Family Investment Program benefits; and
  • requiring personal care providers to grant immediate access to records to the Health Department if investigating Medicaid funds.

Children and family policy reforms

  • Extending the number of absent days that child care providers can be reimbursed when children of young mothers, still in school, miss day care, effective Jan. 1, 2013;
  • using 80 percent of grants for construction or rehabilitation of early childhood, crisis nursery or parenting centers for counties outside the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area;
  • implementing a pediatric care coordination service for children with high-cost health conditions;
  • requiring managed care and county-based purchasing plans to implement strategies to reduce incidences of low-birth weight; and
  • requiring postpartum depression information to be available at Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program locations.

Change to previous legislation

  • Repealing the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association’s six-month residency requirement for Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program enrollees;
  • repealing a mandate that managed health care plans report the company’s five highest salaries, including all types of compensation, in excess of $50,000;
  • delaying the 20 percent rate reduction to personal care assistants who are related to the assisted person until July 1, 2013;
  • delaying the mandatory bed closure for adult foster care homes until July 2013 and conducting a needs determination study during the interim; and
  • delaying the 1.67 percent continuing care rate reduction until July 1, 2013, or until a federal waiver is received for persons with intermediate care facility or developmental disabled waivers.

Adult-related provisions

  • Raising the allowable earned income level to $500 per month for employed adults with mental illness living in group homes, effective Oct. 1, 2012;
  • providing exemptions to the nursing home moratorium;
  • establishing a critical access nursing designation, effective April 29, 2012;
  • issuing a mental health certification for adult foster care homes;
  • enabling a variance for a fifth bed in a four-bed adult foster care facility to respite care;
  • requiring adherence to new regulations regarding overnight supervision of residents in adult group homes;
  • developing a Senior LinkAge Line referral service for older adults at-risk for long-term care;
  • removing the Medical Assistance asset cap for employed persons with disabilities reaching age 65, to prevent “spending down” of finances or moving into more expensive shelter care, effective April 1, 2012;
  • encouraging a provider for persons in individualized community living facilities to transfer the lease to the resident within two years; and
  • expanding the shelter options for “shelter needy” adults to live in units with more than four beds, provided no more than 25 percent of the units are used for this purpose.

Studies and task forces

  • Appropriating $200,000 for a study focused on the incidence of autism among the Somali community;
  • directing the Departments of Human Services; Education; Health; and Employment and Economic Development to study supportive housing models for children diagnosed with autism disorders;
  • changing the name of the Ladder Out of Poverty Task Force to the Asset Development and Financial Literacy Task Force;
  • establishing the Minnesota visible child work group to improve homeless children’s well-being;
  • analyzing the differences in asset limit requirements in human services assistance programs and reporting findings by Jan. 15, 2013;
  • requiring a nonemergency medical transportation advisory committee to advise and make policy recommendations to the Health Department;
  • requiring the Human Services Department to do an emergency Medical Assistance study;
  • establishing a Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force;
  • conducting a study of health record access;
  • requiring the Health Department to publicly report sexual violence data;
  • directing the Human Services Department to do a feasibility study on licensing personal care attendant services;
  • adding marriage and family therapy counselors to the State Advisory Council on Mental Health; and
  • appropriating $137,000 to study the capacity need for radiation therapy facilities.

Miscellaneous provisions

  • Reimbursing for services performed by physician assistants and covered under Medical Assistance;
  • biennially conducting an independent third-party audit of managed care plans and county-based purchasing plans, beginning Jan. 1, 2014;
  • lifting the moratorium on advanced diagnostic imaging facilities, effective Aug. 1, 2014, if certain criteria are met; and
  • appropriating $300,000 to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, upon federal approval, for medical education and research costs payments.