In mid-January, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) changed the amount of money available to each county for its annual budget to operate the MR/RC (Mental Retardation/Related Conditions) waiver. This process is called rebasing. In many instances, this was less money than the county had already committed to spend.
The November Forecast by the state of Minnesota projected that the MR/RC waiver spending was going to grow more rapidly than expected. DHS decided that immediate action needed to be taken to reduce the future growth. DHS hoped that by rebasing and limiting future growth in the waiver budget, they could hold off potential serious cuts in the next round of budget cuts to balance the 2004/2005 deficit. DHS estimates that rebasing will reduce MR/RC waiver spending for the next biennium by $63 million.
Shortly after DHS informed the counties of their new MR/RC waiver budgets, some counties began to inform consumers, families and providers about immediate reductions in their services. Dakota and Ramsey counties have held meetings with the families of waiver recipients and with providers. Dakota has informed its providers that their rates will be reduced by 7 percentCfamilies of children will have their Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS) budgets decreased by 20 percent and CDCS adult recipients will have their budgets reduced by 15 percent. Ramsey County is reducing provider rates by 5 percent and family rates are being adjusted by the full implementation of their matrix assessment (a budget tool developed by Ramsey County to calculate individual budgets). This has resulted in some families having their budgets substantially decreased.
Carver, Anoka, Scott, Rock and Stearns counties have all indicated that they might have to take similar action.
It appears that rebasing has resulted in some significant unintended consequences. These include:
Current services are being reducedCnot just future growth.
Counties are reacting differently to their rebasing challengesCconsumers are being treated differently depending on county of residence.
In some counties, providers are experiencing across-the-board reductions.
Families are bearing a disproportionate amount of budget reductions in some counties.
Rebasing has caused many individuals, families and providers much stress and anxiety. Going into this legislative session, everyone knew that services were at risk of being cut. People were prepared for potential modest and reasonable reductions, but not the extensive reductions that rebasing has caused. On top of these, the governor=s budget proposes an across-the-board 4 percent rate reduction on most services provided to persons with developmental disabilities.
Arc Minnesota and the Minnesota Disability Law Center have expressed concerns about this process to DHS and counties. A meeting was held with DHS Commissioner Goodno to address this issue and he is reviewing the rebasing process. Legislators are hearing from their constituents and are concerned about the immediate impact.
Persons impacted by rebasing need to continue to share their concerns with their county commissioners and legislators until this issue is satisfactorily resolved. If you don=t know who your legislator is, you can call House Information at 651-296-2146 or 1-800-657-3550 and give them your street address, city, and zipCor go to the District Finder page of the Minnesota State Legislature Web site at www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/Districtfinder.asp. For additional information, visit the Arc Minnesota Web site at www.arcminnesota.com and click on Action Alerts.
Steve Larson is the Executive Director of Arc Minnesota.