Category Archives: Issues Advocacy

Shutdown Looms

Right now, we do not know if there will be a shutdown.  We don’t know how long it would last if it happens.  We don’t know for sure what services will be “essential” and what will stop.

We do know that it will be a bad outcome for so many.   Interruption of services, financial strain on  community health providers, loss of health insurance…

Please check out our update this week on what we’re seeing, and how you can help get a budget that is fair to Minnesotans with mental illnesses.

Eliminating Reforms

This week’s update really puts a focus on how cuts in the last few years have effectively rolled back the bipartisan 2007 reforms.  $34 million of new grant money was going to really change the way that mental health services are delivered in the state, by putting more focus on the community providers and what we can do to keep people from needing in-patient care.

The good news is that it worked.  Hospital bed days were down, crisis services were started, and people got the help they needed, where they were. (Link goes to PDF)

The bad news is that last year’s cuts totaled 15 million.  The proposed HHS budget that Gov. Dayton vetoed for being too drastic would have cut even more than that.  In 2007, members from both parties and Governor Pawlenty proudly said that $34 million would change the system.

So what would these cuts do?

Not Done Yet

The session is over, but there is no signed budget.

Gridlock.          Deadlock.        Principled.      But where is Compromise?

These are all words that have been bandied about in the past few weeks. As we hear about how principled everyone is, Minnesotan’s lose critical services that keep them independent.

You will hear me use that term “independent” frequently as we discuss the legislature. In the 2007 mental health bi-partisan reform, independence was at the core of that action. People with mental illnesses previously were hospitalized frequently with their illness. After the reform, hospitalizations lessened and prevention was the emphasis.

Now it appears we are returning to more of a crisis response, except crisis services are also being cut. So I guess we return to uncompensated hospitalizations and loss of independence.

If your legislator holds meetings in your community ask him or her why they didn’t compromise on the budget. Ask them if they are going to take the per diem for the special session and where that money is in the budget. Ask them about a government shut down.

Ask them what’s next.

HHS Budget Moves Again

The HHS budget is approved by conference and the full Senate, moving to the House.  The cuts it contains are truly devastating for people with mental illnesses, and we continue to oppose them.  While Gov. Dayton has pledged not to agree to such cuts, we know that we need to change the conversation at the capitol.  Please keep raising your voice, with your legislators, to the Governor, and in your community to let people know why an all-cuts budget won’t work.

It’s very sad to see the dedicated grants for mental health services being targeted for cuts at the same time that counties will be released from any obligation to spend a consistent amount on services.  What are small amounts of funding compared to the entire budget make a world of difference for Minnesotans with mental illnesses.

For full details, visit our legislative update on the website.

No Movement

There’s little sign of progress at the legislature.  Conference committees are still debating the final form of major budget bills.  With less than a month left, the only complete and balanced budget proposal on the table is the Governor’s.

For full details, including policy bills that we are watching, visit our website.

Bad Process

This week’s update focuses on some of the problems we still face as the session heads to the end.  Instead of bills that are passed and signed by the governor, the Legislature is heading straight to amending the Minnesota constitution.  Several of these propose amendments could have harmful effects on our community.

We’re still waiting on the SF 760 conference committee, which convenes again on Friday. This is the major omnibus bill that would fund health and human services.

More details are coming out on the MN Choice proposal, the block grant that the GOP is seeking instead of participating in Medicaid.  There is still a large gap between what the House and Senate leadership claim it will save.  Gov. Dayton remains opposed.

For full details, visit our update page on the website.  Keep writing, calling, and being heard.  Our friends at NAMI MN have put together several protests this week at the capital, that’s another opportunity to get involved.

Conference Committee Moves Forward

The House and Senate Health and Human Services Conference Committee have completed their side-by-side comparison walk through.  They have heard initial statements from the Commissioners of both the Health Department and the Human Services Department.

The next step, next week, is to look at where they are in agreement and where they differ and then come to some understanding.  Rep. Abeler said on Monday that the spreadsheets have been amended to make changes on a couple of items based upon new financial information.

There are items that are as good and as bad as can be.  Find out more at our legislative update page.

An Ounce of Crisis Intervention is Worth…

This week’s legislative update features several Letters to the Editor that are designed to get the facts out around mental health services in Minnesota.  Since 2007, Minnesota has taken real steps towards a system that believes in recovery.  More resources were put into crisis intervention, community services, and creating levels of care that would allow more people to transition out from or avoid hospitalization.  However, it seems that ever since these reforms passed with bipartisan acclaim, they have been under fire as the budget situation tightened.  This year, we are trying our best to focus the discussion on what Minnesota stands to lose when it turns away from recovery.

We hope that people can send these letters in to local papers, so that we can build support for these services as cost-saving and outcome improving.  Mental health matters to Minnesota.

Check them out at our website and send your letter today!

On the Lookout

Budget targets have gone out to committee chairs, and they are now assembling the bills that will help them make their targets. We’ve made this week’s update a focus on some of those bills.

Now is a great time to be in contact with your legislator.  The more they hear on these bills, the better chance we have of improved outcomes.

Fight for Parity

Sadly, the fight for parity seems like it never really ended.  This week’s update talks about the problems with HF8/SF32, a proposal to change the Minnesota Care Program.

By pushing state program recipients out on to the individual market, people would lose access to the model mental health benefit set, a proven package of treatment options for better mental health, and instead be pressured to buy plans that exclude any mental health or chemical treatment coverage.

We think it’s wrong, and we’re asking for your help in turning this proposal around.  Read more on our legislative update page this week.