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At the Capitol: Senate Committees Host Hearings about Vaccine Rollout

With Governor Walz announcing a loosening of social and business restrictions, the legislature is giving greater attention to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. This week, lawmakers will be focusing on how the vaccine is affecting virus infection rates as well as its disbursement to vulnerable population groups, especially seniors. Here is what you need to know about what’s happening at the Capitol:

This Week
The Senate will have further committee hearings this Wednesday on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Senate Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care will host a question and answer session with the Minnesota Department of Health about the state’s vaccine program. The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy will take time to listen to health experts from West Virginia on their vaccine rollout and discuss lessons they learned that apply to Minnesota’s program. Overall, the Senate continues to urge the administration to vaccinate Minnesota’s seniors and older adults as quickly as possible and we expect these hearings to support that priority this week.

Last Week
The Senate Committee on Human Services Licensing Policy heard S.F. 496, a bill that extends the waiver on background study requirements issued at the outset of the pandemic. The passage of this bill will help senior care providers maintain the workforce they need to care for their residents. For more on this, make sure to check out LeadingAge Minnesota’s Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Jon Lips’ analysis and his testimony before the committee here.

Additionally, the Senate Committee on Taxes heard S.F. 463, a bill that expands the long-term care insurance tax credit. We are supportive of this incentive as it helps offset the increasing costs of care for our seniors, especially those not covered by Medicaid. 

What’s Ahead
LeadingAge Minnesota will be having its annual Day at the Capitol on the week of March 15. This year’s event will be virtual, and we hope that this means we have even stronger participation from our members throughout Minnesota! Essentially, we will be bringing the Minnesota Capitol to you, directly through your laptop. The event is segmented into shorter bits throughout the week of March 15 so that it will be easier to fit into your busy schedules. Don’t worry, it will still include the essentials that you have come to expect: expert advocacy training, key legislators, including Assistant Senate Majority Leader Karin Housley, and opportunities to meet with your lawmakers one-on-one. Click here to register and find out more information.

What to Watch
In the next few weeks, the Minnesota Office of Management and Budget will release the February Forecast to the public. This annual economic report will affect the budget making process greatly as it gives lawmakers the most up-to-date snapshot of Minnesota’s financial status. While it’s challenging to predict, lawmakers and policy experts anticipate an improved financial situation from the December Forecast now that more of the economy has reopened. A more positive forecast would be beneficial for LeadingAge Minnesota’s policy proposals involving workforce investments as well as preventing care center rate cuts. We will be closely watching for updates and plan on issuing an analysis once the forecast is officially released.

Each week during the legislative session, follow Advantage for regular updates about what’s happening at the Capitol.

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