Unsurprisingly, some people are pleased with omnibus health finance bill while others created a dire picture if they don’t get money they requested.
“While we await more guidance from the federal government … I very much appreciate this bill at the state level also sees the need for sustained investments in improving public health in Minnesota,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told the House Health Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday. “There are many things here that will be very important to come out of the COVID pandemic and build a stronger system going forward.”
Members spent more than 90 minutes listening to opinions of HF2128, as amended, Wednesday.
The bill checks in at $18.95 billion in spending for the biennium that begins July 1, 2021.
A joint target between the health and human services bills is $346.51 million above current base, including $154.93 million in health spending. Only education has a greater proposed increase from base: $721.7 million.
“I think we have a pretty good budget target; I’m not unhappy with it at all,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), the bill sponsor.
[MORE: View the spreadsheet]
“The new investments in this bill, particularly to support public health and to address health disparities are very timely and very welcome,” Malcolm said.
Representing the Minnesota Medical Association, Dave Renner said one thing he likes is $27.63 million to expand coverage for telehealth programs.
“We have all realized how well it can work for patients and how much patients benefit from it,” he said. “Clearly, if we are interested in addressing health disparities, telephone and telehealth coverage must be covered for our public programs also.”
Dr. Keith Mays, interim dean at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, said the bill proposes repealing critical access dollars used for rural access and children’s rate enhancement. “This specifically runs the risk of jeopardizing the fiscal solvency of safety net providers. … Oral health is associated with overall health and, therefore, access to oral health care is important to every Minnesotan.”
The committee plans to meet at 1 p.m. Friday to take amendments and likely approve the bill. It would then go to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it is expected to be combined next week with the human services and early childhood omnibus bills.
Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) sponsors the companion, SF2360, which awaits action by the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.
Among the new spending in the 2022-23 biennium is:
Numerous savings are scattered throughout the bill to partially offset new spending.
[WATCH: Tuesday’s walk-through of the bill]
A plethora of policy changes is proposed, including:
What's in the bill?
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus health finance bill: