The legislature and administrative officials having been meeting over the weekend to finalize the details of the budget deal that would end the Minnesota government shutdown. Although the negotiators missed their self-imposed deadlines, they remain optomistic that an agreement will be reached soon and that the shutdown will end this week.
The State Capitol Complex and the negotiations remain “closed” to the public. With very little specific detail being shared before a final agreement is announced, we have heard that the HHS bill includes the following things that were agreed to at a “global” level:
• Provide $556 million in additional “revenue” for HHS above the legislative targets. This would bring the legislative “cut” target down from $1.6 billion to about $1.05 billion.
• A statement that the global agreement would protect 140,000 Minnesotans from losing health care, indicates that the MA Early Expansion that the legislature had proposed eliminating will be bought-back. This expansion allowed for Medical Assistance coverage for adults without dependent children.
• Also, the position that the agreement protects against long-term care cuts that would have forced 1,500 elderly and disabled people into more expensive nursing homes rather than home and community-based services, indicates that the alternative Personal Care Assistant (PCA) program may be included for funding. This program would help alleviate the impact on those clients that will lose PCA services because of eligibility changes.
• We are hearing that the agreement protects against cuts to mental health treatment funding that result in increased numbers of people with mental illness in our jails, emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals. I believe this is most likely the proposed cuts to Adult Mental Health Grants, and indicates that cuts of that magnitude will not be included in the final agreement.
• A statement that the agreement protects against a drastic reduction in medical education and research funding tells us that proposed MERC funding cuts will be reduced from the legislative proposals, but some level of cuts will remain.
• The position that the agreement protects against a 50% cut to women’s primary health care services (family planning) is most likely referring to the proposed cuts to the Family Planning Special Project Grants, indicating that level of cuts are not in the final agreement.
• Finally, a statement that the agreement protects substantial funding for Department of Health Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) which aims to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives by reducing the burden of chronic disease and reduce long term healthcare costs indicates that SHIP funding will remain, but not at its previous level.
We are viewing the above list as a preview of the final HHS bill, as these items represent highlights in the legislation. The detailed program funding for the remainder of the agreement will be announced soon. As soon as we have more information, we will communicate it to you.