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Omnibus health and human services bill heads for Dayton's desk

By Tory Cooney

The House repassed the omnibus health and human services bill in a 76-56 vote Tuesday night.

Sponsored by Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) and Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake),  HF945 SF800* would cut $482.44 million from projected state spending during the 2018-19 biennium, totaling about $14 billion.

“We can’t afford to have the health and human services budget grow at such a rate that it eclipses everything,” Dean said. “I reject that idea that we can’t do anything about the growth and spending.”

Rep. Matt Dean

The bill also would transition Minnesotans from MNsure, the state-run insurance marketplace, to a federally facilitated marketplace.

Conferees agreed to the conference committee report late Monday, drawing criticism from DFL members, who said the process lacked public input and sufficient debate. The Senate voted 34-33 to repass the bill Tuesday night and it will now go to Gov. Mark Dayton for consideration.

“This bill hurts the very people who look to us for support,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), who criticized the bill’s cost-savings measures as “tricks and gimmicks.”

Other DFLers called the bill “reprehensible,” “infuriating,” and “dangerous," stating that it weakened consumer protections and failed to adequately provide for personal care attendants, employees at the Minnesota Security Hospital, or children and families.

“We shouldn’t be this far apart as a body,” Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan) said. “We’re failing the people of Minnesota … and we are creating even more uncertainty.”

Funding provisions remain the same as the report adopted May 1.

These include:

  • $4.16 million to provide school-linked mental health grants, allowing students to receive early intervention and care at their schools;
  • $3.52 million to reduce service fees by 25 percent for parents of children who are disabled;
  • $3.25 million to provide long-term homelessness support services, housing for mentally ill adults, transitional housing and emergency shelters;
  • $3.44 million to provide a rate increase for complex services provided by personal care assistants; and
  • $1.38 million to fund a $13 per month increase in cash assistance for families in the Minnesota Family Investment Program, though the program is expected to save $62,000 over the 2018-19 biennium.

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