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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Matt Dean (R)

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RELEASE: Aging Adults, Minnesotans with Disabilities, Mental Health Issues Prioritized in GOP Bill

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SAINT PAUL, MN – On Wednesday, April 29, the House passed the Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus bill authored by HHS Finance Chairman Matt Dean (R-Dellwood). The legislation protects the most vulnerable, while expanding access to quality, affordable care for all Minnesotans.

"Today, the House passed a health care reform bill that prioritizes care for Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens," said Rep. Matt Dean. "Our omnibus bill seeks to reconnect all Minnesotans with world-leading health care by cutting through red tape, skyrocketing costs and layers of redundant, harmful bureaucracy that government has imposed."

"We are committed to making sure that health care costs don't grow exponentially faster than the budgets of the families who fund them," said Rep. Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley), Chair of the Health and Human Services Reform Committee. "Our bill makes real reforms to our health programs that will save taxpayers billions while investing in care for Minnesota's aging adults, expanding access to mental health services, and making real reforms to Minnesota's child protection laws."

A top priority for House Republicans this session is improving aging adults’ quality of life. This legislation provides real reform to facilities that care for our elderly by implementing a statewide rate of reimbursement – which will strongly assist nursing homes in Greater Minnesota, improve the wages of care providers and provide a permanent solution to statewide nursing home needs.

"This legislation provides a major investment in nursing homes, establishes a sustainable reimbursement system, and encourages our workforce to consider a career in long-term care,” said State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne), Chairman of the Minnesota House Aging and Long Term Care Policy Committee. "There's no doubt these changes will help improve the quality of care our seniors deserve."

Additionally, this legislation values Minnesota's disabled and vulnerable, as well as those who care for them. It provides a one-time five percent cost of living adjustment for home and community based care workers and also restores funding for the Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities Program to reduce their premium payments.

Next, the legislation addresses the mental health crisis in our state. The bill provides for more psychiatric beds which are critically needed. It funds suicide prevention and mental health care training as well, teaching techniques to help de-escalate mental health crises, protecting patients and health care professionals.

In addition, the HHS Omnibus bill funds the Safe Harbor Program and the Homeless Youth Act, protecting victims of violence and sexual abuse.

As House Republicans look to bring government spending more in line with family budgets, this legislation works to eliminate waste and abuse by no longer paying entitlement benefits for people who do not qualify for them. The Department of Human Services will be given new authority to detect and collect on the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on unnecessary or illegal payments.

Minnesota Care II will provide a choice of private Minnesota health insurance plans to those currently enrolled in a one-size-fits-all Basic Health Plan (BHP). The BHP was negotiated as part of the federal health care expansion implemented by Governor Dayton in 2011. The cost of that care has been extremely expensive as Minnesotans had to pick up the tab many thought the federal government would cover. This reform reins in health care costs while still offering federal and state assistance to low income Minnesotans. This will provide quality, private health insurance plans within a budget that is paid for.

"Our hospitals, doctors, nurses and researchers are still the best, brightest hope for health reform," added Rep. Dean. "With this bill, Minnesota will get back to doing what we do best—leading the country instead of following."