Reform 2020 aims for easier reporting of suspected maltreatment

Reform 2020 is a bipartisan initiative to reform Medical Assistance—Minnesota’s Medicaid program—to better meet the challenges of rising health care costs and a growing aging population while still providing Minnesotans the services they need to lead fulfilling lives.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has asked the 2013 Legislature to approve several components of the initiative, some of which are contingent on federal approval.

Minnesota was at the forefront nationally decades ago in helping people with disabilities move from institutions to homes in the community.

This continuing trend has meant more choices and flexibility in how people with disabilities access and use supports and services as well as more opportunity to lead personally fulfilling and meaningful lives. Being an active participant in community brings more personal responsibility and opportunity but can also bring the possibility of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

These risks are mitigated by a strong adult protection system. That is why key components of Reform 2020 include proposals for an improved way to report concerns about these serious issues and for additional resources to support timely response by the adult protection system.

Under current law, each county is responsible for designating a Common Entry Point for receiving and responding to reports of suspected maltreatment of vulnerable adults. Across Minnesota, more than 160 different phone numbers are designated to receive calls reporting suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation. This complexity significantly reduces the effectiveness of the system. People who want to make maltreatment reports sometimes need to make two or more phone calls to reach an appropriate party to take a report.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s Reform 2020 proposal this legislative session would make the reporting process simpler and more accessible. It creates a single, statewide response center anyone can access to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation. This system would be web-based and include a central database that would provide information useful in improving quality of care for people with disabilities and the elderly.

The DHS Office of the Inspector General has also asked the Legislature for additional resources to support timely maltreatment investigations as well as implementation of licensure of some services for people with disabilities not currently licensed.

When the response center is rolled out, a public outreach campaign would begin to raise awareness of issues of maltreatment and provide information on how to recognize and report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation. County adult protection units would have new funding to strengthen their ability to provide for adult protection.

Reform2020’s primary focus is the best outcomes for people. As we aim to ensure people receive the right services, at the right time, in the right way, it’s imperative that we make as strong as possible the means by which the safety and dignity of all citizens are honored and preserved.

Alex Bartolic and Jean Wood are the Minnesota Department of Human Services directors, respectively, of the Disability Services and Aging and Adult Services divisions.

Learn more about Reform 2020 and Minnesota’s adult protection system on the DHS website at www.dhs.mn.us For more information about services for people with disabilities, contact the Disability Linkage Line® at 1-866-333-2466.