Both positive and disappointing results in Health and Human Services from the 2007 legislative session
The 2007 Minnesota Legislative Session ended dramatically; votes on major funding bills happened at the last possible minute, because negotiations with the governor failed to reach final agreements in most areas. From the beginning of the session, efforts to improve services and funding for persons with disabilities faced a number of serious problems: the available revenue to restore cuts from the past four years or fund new services was very tight, the governor opposed any revenue or tax increases to fund services or programs, and the House and Senate did not have veto-proof majorities to override the governor’s promised vetoes of new revenue.
Although there were many disappointments for persons with disabilities, the legislative session did produce some positive changes in the Health and Human Services area:
Significant Improvements for Mental Health Services Adopted
A very significant effort to improve mental health treatment throughout Minnesota’s service system for children and adults was successful this year. The resulting legislation, proposed in the governor’s budget, adds mental health services to state health care programs, establishes a demonstration project using managed care and increases in funding to numerous grant programs and for infrastructure needs. This effort, the result of over three years of work, was supported broadly by mental health consumers, advocates, providers, as well as the Department of Human Services (DHS), the governor and many legislators. The notable changes provide $34 million in increased funding for mental health services over the biennium. (A fuller article on these changes is coming in next month’s issue.)
Significant provisions which were not adopted in the final Health and Human Services bill include:
• relief from Medicare Part D co-payments for those on MA and Medicare
• an increase in the MA income and assets standards for persons with disabilities and seniors
• improvements for those who turn 65 using the Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) option
• increased services for those on waiting lists for the home and community waiver for persons with developmental disabilities, family support grants and semi-independent living services
• a reduction in parent fees for families with children with significant disabilities eligible for institutional care;
• continued funding for the Options Too effort to remove barriers to community living.