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Bipartisan — and largely technical — human services policy bill clears House

Thought the human services budget bill was confusing? Welcome to the omnibus human services policy bill.

Now heading to the Senate, HF1403, as amended, found bipartisan support Tuesday when it was passed 115-10 by the House.

Sponsored by Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood), the technical bill also contains language from bills sponsored by Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar), Rep. Brion Curran (DFL-Vadnais Heights), Rep. Heather Edelson (DFL-Edina), and Rep. Leigh Finke (DFL-St. Paul).

Comprised mostly of technical changes related to various aging, disability and behavioral health services, the bill would also expand eligibility for the home and community-based services workforce development grant.

Notably, the grant would not count as income or an asset when determining eligibility for numerous economic assistance and health care programs.

Moreover, the effective dates of previous laws would be added, the definition of “court examiner” clarified, and a handful of definitions would be placed in chapter 254B of state statutes.

Moving from rule to statute include provisions governing behavioral health fund eligibility, substance use disorder assessment criteria dimensions and risk descriptions, and payment for services.

Otherwise, the proposal simply makes cross-referencing and terminology updates to reflect the change from “Rule 25” assessments and placements for substance use disorder services to the current direct access model for comprehensive assessments and services.

Successful amendments

Offered by Curran, an amendment would “make an exception that we have currently available customized living service units to be utilized, so that people who are waiting for that right setting to meet their service needs have the access to meet these settings.”

“This is a very small provision, and it might only affect a really small group of people, but to those individuals this will mean the world to them,” she said.

Modifying peer recovery and recovery community organization requirements, more specifically changing when treatment plan reviews take place, and allowing drug counselors to supervise 60 instead of 50 clients at a time came via a Baker amendment.

“The need for people to get help with opioid disorders is urgent, but the current regulations mean that many of them are forced to wait until there are openings once they seek help,” he said.

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