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And within a couple of days, we have legislative HHS budget proposals.

Of course, they couldn’t be more different in their approaches to the budget and older adult services.

The House has released its HHS Omnibus bill, HF2614, which has already moved through every necessary committee but one since Monday. We are thrilled that nursing homes, Elderly Waiver, Alternative Care, and other LTC grants and providers are held harmless in the House bill.

Although the Senate has not released a complete omnibus bill, Sen. Berglin has proposed amendments to a vehicle bill, SF2337.  Two amendments impact providers of older adult services.  One amendment increases the surcharge on nursing homes in lieu of cutting Medical Assistance rates.  The second amendment includes onerous regulations for Housing-with-Services providers and a 5% cut to Elderly Waiver CL and 24 hour CL.

Both bodies are moving quickly on their respective omnibus bills.  The House bill has only one committee left before the floor.  Meanwhile, the Senate HHS finance division is planning to pass their bill out of committee on Monday.  This sets us up for conference committee possibly by the end of next week.

You can see there are very different approaches to our areas of interest.  In addition, the House and Senate differ in how they address hospitals and paying for health care coverage for poor Minnesotans.  Toss in magic federal money that the state hopes to see by the end of May, and you have the makings of quite a conference committee!

Legislators have a long weekend ahead as they break for the Republican state convention.  They will get back to work on Monday.

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Wouldn’t you know it?  Just as I post the last entry about clear skies over Europe and HHS budget bills, I find out air travel will be resuming soon over the Continent.

But never fear, we will just adapt!  New vote: will the House or Senate release their bill first? And when?

Again, send your vote to jmcnertney@agingservicesmn.org.  Closest answer wins a shout-out.  And just to entice you, the winner will also get to choose that week’s theme song for the video update!

Well, it is Monday of week 10 of the 2010 legislative session, and we still do not have an HHS budget bill from the House or the Senate. The House is still claiming they are awaiting more information on the interaction between federal health care reform and the state’s budget.

In the meantime, while we are eagerly awaiting a budget, Aging Services advocacy staff has been fascinated by coverage of the Icelandic volcano eruption and resulting air travel delays in Europe. Let’s face it — spewing lava, overpowering ash, and other “man vs. nature” trials are pretty awesome stuff.

So we got to thinking: how long will global air traffic be tied up do to volcanic ash?  Which led to a related question: how much longer before the House and/or Senate release an HHS budget bill?

Which of course led to the obvious question: which will happen first? Clear skies over Europe or the release of an HHS budget bill in either body? And will the House or Senate release a bill first?

Send your vote to jmcnertney@agingservicesmn.org.  Closest vote to reality gets an awesome shout-out on the blog and our video update.  And if you watched last week’s video update, you know just how awesome that update is!

Two excellent editorials were published this week related to Aging Services and our work.

MinnPost published an op/ed written by Gayle Kvenvold and Patti Cullen, regarding the budget situation.

Another editorial in the Mankato Free Press looks at the impact changing demographics are having and will continue to have on the state budget.  This editorial was a direct result of Gayle’s meeting with the editorial board this week.

Happy reading!

Well, it is official.  House DFL leadership announced today that the Health and Human Services budget bill is on hold until more is understood about the interaction of the federal health care reform bill and the state budget.

Not surprisingly, GOP leaders responded with disappointment over a “do-nothing” week, particularly regarding a lack of HHS and K-12 education budget bills.

Also at play, although not mentioned, is the fate of $400 million in enhanced Medicaid match funding (FMAP), which both the House and Governor are counting on to help balance the state’s budget.  However, the money has not yet passed Congress and may not until late April or early May.

So far, the legislature has passed and the governor has signed a bonding bill, a GAMC bill, a budget bill that cuts one-third of the deficit, and a number of other bills.  However, there isn’t much else for the legislators to work on until the HHS and K-12 budget bills are released.  Even the House and Senate tax committees have been relatively quiet — with the exception of Senate Tax Chair Bakk’s Vikings proposal (which is not getting a warm reception).

So it continues to be an interesting time at the Capitol!  Stayed tuned.  Things could happen at any time!

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Aging matters to all of us.

This blog will address the issues, questions, challenges and opportunities that surface as we work to meet the demands of an aging population.

It’s also a place to highlight the people and organizations whose passion, creativity and commitment are shaping the future of older adult services in Minnesota.

Everyone has a story about how aging impacts their life – we hope you’ll join the conversation and share your story.

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