Omnibus HHS finance bill heading to the floor


The omnibus health and human services finance bill is headed to the House floor after being approved 15-11 by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) and Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), HF927/ SF760* would cut $1.6 billion in projected General Fund health and human services spending over the next two fiscal years. Much of the cost savings are expected to come from nursing home care reforms for the elderly and disabled and lower payments to HMOs that serve poor and disabled residents.

An economic environment where even Gov. Mark Dayton‘s proposed health and human services budget contains $800 million in reductions proves there has to be changes made, said Abeler, who chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

The bill was approved with amended language offered by Abeler that includes a repeal of early Medicaid enrollment for adults without children whose income is less than 75 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The majority of the $200 million in cost savings generated from that repeal would be used to reduce cuts made to elderly and disabled waivered services.

“This repeals the early MA (Medical Assistance) that we opted into and we are now backing out of,” Abeler said. “It attempts to recreate some of the successes we actually walked away from when the governor enrolled us in early MA.”

Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr. (DFL-Crystal) unsuccessfully offered an amendment that would have re-referred the bill to the House Health and Humans Services Committee. He also unsuccessfully made a motion to attach a statement indicating the bill was passed by the House Ways and Means Committee without certification that it aligns with HHS budget targets.

“We had testimony here this morning that there is $750 million that is in this bill without a fiscal note, and I don’t think we can, in good conscience, move this bill forward and say by committee action that it is certified,” Carlson said.

Committee Chairwoman Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) said the amendment would only cause confusion as the bill moves to the House floor.

“I don’t want to get into a position here where we have a bill on the floor that doesn’t have the ability to be certified and has to go back to committee,” she said.