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Legislators and the governor have reached a budget deal.  Here’s a quick summary:

  • Legislators will ratify the governor’s 2009 unallotments.
  • The governor will have the option to “opt-in” to early Medicaid enrollment for adults without children.
  • There will be a fix to the current GAMC program in the meantime so more hospitals will be involved.
  • The $408 million in FMAP money will go to the bottom line to balance the budget.
  • The school shift from the unallotments will be paid back.
The older adult services provisions are very similar to those passed in the initial HHS omnibus bill, with one major exception:

  • NO mandatory transitional consultation
  • Start-up costs for PACE included
  • No cuts to nursing home rates
  • 5% cut to EW Customized Living and 24-hour Customized Living
  • Suspension of 2009 nursing home rebasing (ratification of unallotment)
  • Inclusion of the housing data collection and delineation of services in rent
  • Study of housing size and setting options for elderly and disability waivers

Now for the technicality.  Because of the lateness of the deal, the governor has needed to call a special session that started at 12:01 this morning in order for the budget bill to be properly processed and voted on.  There wasn’t enough time for the legislation to be finalized and voted on before midnight, which was the constitutional end of the 2010 legislative session.

So, the legislature is technically in special session.  But hopefully it will be over before sunrise.


This evening’s face to face meetings between legislative leadership and the governor were paused for the House and Senate to recognize the members of their bodies who are retiring.  (but don’t worry, the negotiations continued through others)

So Aging Services would like to take a moment to also recognize those Representatives and Senators who are retiring from the Minnesota legislature who have also been strong champions of older adult services:
Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Minneapolis)
Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague)
Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall)
Rep. Cy Thao (DFL-St. Paul)
Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul)

Thank you all for your support for older Minnesotans and the people who serve them!

And thank you to all the other legislators who are not running for re-election for your service!

It’s been a long weekend for legislators as they struggle to finalize a budget deal before midnight tonight.

To bring readers up to speed: legislative leaders and the governor met throughout the day on Saturday and into the night.  The major sticking point in bridging differences has been how to deal with Medical Assistance — to expand to adults without children or not to expand to adults without children?  So far, a deal that would include expanded MA has proved elusive.

In other news, a bill including Aging Services of Minnesota’s provision to implement PACE has been vetoed.  While we initially thought the veto was on the underlying public facilities bill, we later discovered the veto was because of PACE.  Although the Governor, DFLers, and Republicans all like the provision, the Governor wanted to include PACE as part of an overall budget deal because it spends money.  Aging Services advocacy staff worked to ensure PACE is included in any final budget provision, and so far it is still in play.

Early this morning, the House and Senate passed a balanced budget bill they had agreed to between themselves, but not with the governor or either GOP caucus.  The bill ratifies the governor’s unallotments and for HHS took a number of provisions from HF2614, the HHS omnibus budget bill Pawlenty vetoed earlier, including PACE and the 5% EW cut.  And we are happy to report this bill did NOT include the mandatory transitional consultation for HWS!

The bill also includes the early enrollment into MA for adults without children along with scaled-back surcharges for HMOs and hospitals, which Pawlenty previously rejected.

Because this bill wasn’t an agreement with Gov. Pawlenty, and because it includes early MA, he says he will veto it but wants to continue discussions.

At 3 PM today, DFL leaders met with Pawlenty and received the following offer: take early expansion off the table, no additional cuts to HHS beyond the unallotments from 2009, and hope the $408 million in enhanced federal money (FMAP) comes in and be used to balance the remainder of the budget.  If FMAP doesn’t come in, there would be a special session to deal with HHS cuts that would need to result from the lack of FMAP money.

And if it looks familiar, its because it is essentially the governor’s original

This deal is being taken back to the respective legislative caucuses for further discussion.

And that brings us up to speed!

One final note: the Twins beat the Yankees today 6-3.  Let’s hope that’s a good omen for the end of session!

Update: DFLers just made a counter-offer that “would authorize the Governor and the next governor to use executive authority to apply or not apply for early enrollment; this authority would expire in January 2011. The governor would sign both health care bills (HF 3834, and the newly proposed second bill). The FMAP $408M would fall to the bottom line to protect cash flow. Pawlenty’s office is expected to reply to the offer soon.” (

Yesterday budget negotiations between legislative leaders and the governor seemed to be moving in a positive direction.

Today, things seemed to have changed.

According to reports and DFL and GOP press conferences, the governor has pulled back from tacit support for including early enrollment for poor adults without children into Medical Assistance in a final budget deal.  House DFLers held a press conference around noon blasting the governor and House Republicans for opposing a proposal they say Republicans once supported.  House GOP members held a response press conference immediately afterwards blasting Democrats for wanting to expand “ObamaCare” when the state has no way to pay for it.  And the governor flew back early from the Fishing Opener.

In other words, the rhetoric is heating up as the time ticks down.

It’s not unusual for budget negotiations to run into problems, especially when the parties are far apart on major issues.  Legislative leaders and the governor are usually able to still hammer out an agreement in time for adjournment.  However, at this point House and Senate leaders are saying they are ready to be  done whether the governor agrees to a deal or not.

No other news on the health and human services front.  It’s all being discussed as part of the  global agreement.  More information will be posted as we hear it.

As expected, Governor Pawlenty has vetoed the health and human services omnibus budget bill passed last night by the House and Senate.  The veto was met with a sharp response from House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who is also the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor.

As a reminder, this bill included the housing with services regulations and 5% cut to EW that Aging Services has been opposed to.

According to reports and his veto message, Pawlenty’s main objection to the bill is the inclusion of allowing adults without children to enroll in Medical Assistance (also called “early expansion” because under the recently enacted federal health care reform, states already providing state-funded health care coverage to low-income adults are given the opportunity to enroll this population in Medicaid and receive the federal matching funds before 2014, which is when all Americans must have health insurance.)  The governor has stated he is open to the idea but dislikes how the provision is paid for over the next three years — but has no alternatives for how to do so.

The chairs of the HHS finance committees, Rep. Tom Huntley and Sen. Linda Berglin, were reportedly meeting with the governor earlier this afternoon in an effort to negotiate an HHS budget deal. No word on how those negotiations went.  Aging Services anticipates negotiations for HHS, along with the broader budget discussions, will continue for the next few days.

The legislature must adjourn on Monday, May 17th and cannot act on any legislation after 11:59 PM on Sunday, May 16th.

Early this morning the conference committee for HF2614, the HHS Omnibus bill, completed its work.  The final product can be viewed here.

Despite the intense advocacy by Aging Services of Minnesota, our partners in the Long-Term Care Imperative, and our memberships, the final agreement includes mandatory transitional consultation and the 5% rate cut to EW Customized Living and 24-hour Customized Living.

We were successful in amending the mandatory consultation language to make it more workable.  However, we still remain opposed to the underlying provision.

But the fight is not over!  Just because this bill is closed doesn’t mean the issue is finished.  The House and Senate are expected to vote on the final bill tonight, and the governor is expected to veto the bill soon thereafter.  There is still time to contact your legislators and ask them to oppose these provisions in the next round of negotiations.

Other provisions impacting older adult services include:

  • ratification of 2009 unallotment suspending nursing home rebasing and continuation of the 4-year rate freeze for nursing homes
  • no nursing home surcharge
  • no additional cuts to other continuing care providers or continuing care grants
  • PACE
  • no elimination of MA coverage for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy

More information on the fate of the HHS bill will be posted as it becomes available.

It’s another lovely spring evening as the HHS omnibus budget conference committee goes into recess for the fourth time today, which also happens to be Mother’s Day.

Contrary to popular belief, being an observer to a conference committee is a lot of hurry up and wait.  The real action tends to take place behind the scenes — what we see in public is usually a continuation of those private negotiations.  And those negotiations can take quite some time.

There have been three public offers made between the House and Senate, none of which have gotten the conferees much closer to an agreement.

More later.

Last night the conference committee for HF2614/SF2337 began with a walk-though of the spreadsheet and some language comparisons.

Needless to say, there are not a lot of similarities between the two proposals.  But both the House and Senate are maintaining they will be finished with the conference committee by midnight on Sunday night.  It will be an interesting weekend!

Conferees for each side are as follows:
House: Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth); Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis); Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis); Rep. Larry Hosch (DFL-St. Joseph); Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul); Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka)

Senate: Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Minneapolis); Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick); Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth); Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato); Sen. Ann Lynch (DFL-Rochester); Sen. Steve Dille (Dassel).

Traditionally conferees must have voted in favor of the bill to be eligible to be appointed to the  conference committee.  That may be the reason why Sen. Steve Dille, who was the only Senate Republican to vote for the bill but is not on the HHS committees, was appointed to the Senate conference committee.

The conference committee is currently meeting and again going through the language of both bills.

Aging Services will post updates throughout the day and weekend as the committee continues its work.

In about 2.5 hours, the Senate debated and passed SF2337, the HHS Omnibus bill.

This beats the House by 7 hours.

Which body is the deliberative body now?

Sen. Ray Vandeveer (R – Forest Lake) offered an amendment to SF2337 that would phase-out rate equalization for nursing homes.

Sen. Berglin spoke in opposition to the amendment, citing consumer opposition as well as state costs after the full repeal of equalization in 2013.

The amendment failed on a voice vote.

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