Legislative work on our agency budgets for the next two years is finished. Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign those finance bills shortly. It will take several updates to cover the broad spectrum of work that was completed as we closed out this year’s regular and special legislative sessions.
But first, a special thank you to the Walter Scott Erickson American Legion Post #557 at Deerwood for honoring me with the opportunity to participate in their Memorial Day ceremony. Speaking on this occasion is difficult for many of us as it awakens the memories of the many brothers and sisters in arms that have fallen in defense of our nation.
Here are some Health and Human Services budget priority items that touch our district:
The attempt to cut $68 million in funding from our rural nursing homes was finally defeated. Thank you to the leadership and staff at Aicota, Aitkin Health Services and CRMC for bombarding the governor’s office with phone calls and emails on this critical matter.
The long-term funding improvements that were put in place that allowed our senior care centers to improve their facilities and provide pay raises to the important work their staffs do every day for our seniors remains in place!
The Minnesota’s health care reinsurance program is continued for the next two years. This program has stabilized the cost of health insurance for the self-employed and small businesses that are in the individual health insurance market. However, much more work remains to be done to repair the serious damage federal intrusion did to Minnesota’s health insurance market.
The 7% cut to the Disability Waiver Rate System (DWRS) was restored. DWRS is a tool used when setting rates for the care of individuals with major disabilities. Restoring this funding allows our specialized facilities to continue providing the 24/7 care necessary for those with long term permanent disabilities - without having to face the unpalatable prospect of staff reductions.
After several years of work and the untiring leadership of Rep. Dave Baker (who represents the Willmar area and is a proud graduate of Aitkin High School) the Legislature put in place a program that deals directly with opioid addiction. The program provides focused funding for education, prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives to address opioid addiction.
More to follow as we discuss the many pieces of our state’s next two year budget.