At the Capitol: The Legislature Debates the Health and Human Services Budget Proposals
On April 28, 2021 by Matt Steele
This week, lawmakers are debating the Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus budget bills on the House and Senate floor. The proposals contain most of the policy priorities affecting the senior services sector. Here is what you need to know about each version of the bills and what the next few weeks ahead look like as we approach the end of the legislative session:
The legislature is debating the HHS omnibus bills this week. We are pleased that the Senate HHS budget bill reflects one of our key priorities, investment in the moratorium exceptions process, as well as other valuable funding for long-term care. The Senate also includes one concerning savings provision – caps on enrollment in disability waivers. We are hopeful legislators will remove this provision as negotiations between the Senate and House proceed.
We are disappointed that the House bill does not include any of our key priorities and, in fact, calls for no new investments in long-term care services at all. In addition, the House bill contains problematic language that would require independent senior living buildings to apply for an assisted living license under the new licensure provisions starting Aug. 1. We will continue working with lawmakers to see that this provision does not end up in a final version of the bill.
Also, on a statewide note, the United States Census released their 2020 findings. We are excited to report that Minnesota will keep its current Congressional representation (determined by population) after many experts believed the state would move from eight representatives to seven. This is important at the federal level as it maintains Minnesota’s strong representation in Congress for the next ten years.
Lawmakers debated omnibus budget bills in committee and voted on some of the bills on the House and Senate floors. At the federal level, LeadingAge held its lobby day. Our members had meetings with nearly every office in our congressional delegation and shared thoughts on our workforce challenges and COVID response and recovery efforts.
As the HHS budget proposals go to conference committee for the House and Senate to work out the differences between the two bills, the versions that enter into conference committee are not the final word on HHS spending for the coming biennium. The two bills do not consider the $2 billion in federal funding coming to Minnesota under the American Rescue Plan. We remain optimistic that, through legislative action or an administrative approval process, some of those funds can be committed to our key priorities, particularly hero pay for long-term care workers and grants to help rebuild the adult day sector.
What to Watch
As we near the last few weeks of session, the budget bills are nearing finalization. Here are the two we are watching most closely:
- HF 2127 (Schultz) / SF 383 (Abeler): Human services reform, finance, and policy omnibus budget bills. Both bills have been passed out of committee and are awaiting floor passage.
- HF 2128 (Liebling) / SF 2360 (Benson): Health and human services finance and policy omnibus budget bills. Both bills are in committee, awaiting final passage to the House and Senate floor.