Give an hour. Get seven cents.
Not many would take that deal, but, according to a report from the Minnesota Disability Law Center, some people with disabilities working subminimum wage jobs earned that little for their labor.
Among many other policy changes, HF2847 would prohibit the subminimum wage.
Sponsored by Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Mpls), the omnibus human services finance and policy bill would spend $14.02 billion — $1.3 billion in new spending — over the 2024-25 biennium to the Department of Human Services for direct care and treatment, aging and disability services, the long-term care workforce, and behavioral health.
[MORE: View the spreadsheet]
The House Human Services Finance Committee received a walkthrough and heard testimony Tuesday. Including a delete-all amendment, and maybe other amendments, the package is likely to be adopted Thursday.
Elimination of the subminimum wage is perhaps the most highly anticipated and controversial policy change.
“(It) will likely require an increased workforce of direct support professionals. No one can calculate those costs for today nor for the future,” wrote Sue Hankner, president and co-founder of A-Team Minnesota.
Human services appropriations
The overwhelming majority of expenses — a little over $12.01 billion — would maintain current levels of medical assistance.
Because the labor shortage has so negatively impacted direct support professionals and frontline workers, home and community-based workforce incentive fund grants would receive a onetime infusion of $33.3 million in fiscal year 2024 to assist with recruitment and retention. A bill heard earlier sought $43 million.
Other new spending includes:
The bill would also increase payment rates for community living assistance and family caregiver services and, although, not exactly what was brought forward in committee earlier, Elderly Waiver payment rates would be increased.
The Human Services Department would be charged with preparing a proposal for the 2024 legislative session to create a Department of Direct Care and Treatment. It would also need to “conduct a systemic review of acute care hospitalizations for people on medical assistance with disabilities, behavioral health conditions, and older adults.” A report would be due to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2025.
Other proffered changes include:
“This small change will have a major impact on the lives of people with disabilities who access PCA services. This bill ensures people have access to their communities,” wrote Julia Page, public policy director for The Arc Minnesota.
Provisions left out of the omnibus
Multiple testifiers expressed disappointment with the reform of Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities being dropped as a priority.
Representatives of This is Medicaid, a coalition of nonprofit organizations who seek to protect Medicaid, said participants have trouble saving money because of the lack of adjustments to asset limitations.
“For over 20 years, Minnesota has been taxing disability through unaffordable premiums for many to receive the support services they need to live in the community through the MA-EPD program,” wrote co-conveners Erin Sutton and Michelle SanCartier.
The Minnesota Coalition for Family Home Visiting had also requested a direct reimbursement for doula services to “lower racial disparities in health care” that was omitted, and a task force on disability services accessibility was left out too.
What’s in the bill?
The following are bill that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus human services finance and policy bill: