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HHS budget bill vetoed

Published (6/1/2010)
By Lauren Radomski
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Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the omnibus health and human services budget bill less than a week before agreeing to some of its provisions in another law.

Sponsored by Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls), the vetoed bill would have reduced General Fund health and human services spending by $114 million in the current biennium through a combination of cuts, transfers and new revenue. It contained a proposal to broaden eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program, a move heavily favored by DFL leadership. They said low-income adults could be better served on the Medicaid program than on General Assistance Medical Care, which will operate at a lower funding level beginning this summer.

The bill also included rate cuts to some health care providers, reductions in mental health spending and appropriations for some State Operated Services facilities slated for closure.

In his veto letter, Pawlenty voiced his opposition to proposed surcharges that would have been used to help capture federal dollars.

“The surcharges on hospitals, insurance companies and group homes will increase health care costs,” he wrote. “I will not sign a bill that moves in that misguided direction.”

Pawlenty was also critical of the bill’s deficit reduction targets, saying they may not go far enough to help address the current deficit or the projected shortfall in fiscal years 2012-2013.

He also rejected claims that the new GAMC program is destined for failure. Recent negotiations with four Twin Cities hospitals about their participation in GAMC “proves that this program can and will work,” Pawlenty wrote.

Much of the health and human services budget bill was later included in SS HF1*/SS SF1, which excludes the surcharges and gives Pawlenty and his successor the option of modifying the Medicaid program.

HF2614*/ SF2337/CH360

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