Over the weekend, the House and Senate passed the agreed upon Health and Human Service Omnibus bill and sent it to Governor Walz for his approval.
This bill contains significant funding from the federal government that was allocated to states this last April through the American Rescue Plan Act. This funding makes increased investments for people with disabilities through rate increases for PCA services, numerous grants to promote self-advocacy programs and language and training to support informed decision making and further independence to name a few.
Along with these investments, the state omnibus bill provides funding for many of ARRM’s top priorities going into the 2021 legislative session.
Rate Increase: The legislature utilized federal dollars to move up the scheduled DWRS inflationary adjustment from July 2022 to January 2022. This change will bring an additional $69 million in state funding to providers and with the federal match, will result in $138 million new dollars for waiver services. Initial estimates by the Department of Human Services show the impact of the inflationary adjustment to be around a 9.7% increase. You can read more about the adjustment and encumbrance language attached to the adjustment in our full bill analysis.
ICF Rate Adjustment: In addition to the increased dollars for waiver services, ARRM was thrilled to see a 5% rate adjustment for ICF services included in the final legislation. Along with this much needed investment, the language also adjusts the “Services During the Day” rate to 100% of the DT&H rate and removes barriers for requesting a variable rate for individuals. ARRM has advocated for a rate increase for ICF providers for the last few legislative sessions and was happy to see it finally move past the finish line.
Additional Funding: In addition to investments in rates, additional dollars were allocated towards different grant programs that address the workforce crisis within Home and Community-Based Services, advancing technology for people with disabilities and establishing Home and Community-Based Services in underserved or rural communities across the state. Dollars to support the creation of a service that allows for support for individuals during short-term acute hospital visits was also included.
Along with these critical investments in Home and Community-Based Services, many important policy provisions were included in the final legislation.
Waiver Reimagine: The second phase of Waiver ReImagine was granted the authority to move forward, with the addition of a Waiver ReImagine Advisory group to help guide the development of Phase II and make recommendations on potential changes to the streamlined menu of services. Addressing the unintended consequences that have been developing as the new menu of services has rolling out in 2021 has been a top priority of ARRM’s, we will make sure to be heavily-engaged with the new advisory group to ensure that provider’s concerns and voices are represented.
Technology: Language that creates a Choice in Technology policy statement was included with the other disability policy statements that were put into statute in 2020. ARRM worked in coalition with the Arc of Minnesota and the Disability Law Center to have this language included and supported the language that accompanied the policy statement that creates a new definition of Informed Decision Making.
Peacetime Emergency Orders: Other important policy language that extends the off ramp for coming into compliance with a full background study for individuals that received a COVID emergency study was extended from 60 days to 365 days. Additionally, language that extends the ability to provide remote supports was also included to now be 6 months after the federal peacetime emergency ends.
There were some provisions included in the final bill that ARRM had opposed. Compromise language around fees for background studies was included. Initial proposed language from the Governor’s office would have taken background study fees out of statute and granted the department the authority to adjust fees on an annual basis. While this proposal did not make the final legislation, background study fees were increased from $20 to $42 per study. Additionally, language that creates a new criteria for individuals to enter a community residential setting or customized living setting was included in the final bill. ARRM will be in close communication with the department as this criteria is established.
Family Foster Care Rates: Finally, we were pleased to see the proposed tiered rate framework for Family Foster Care services and the new framework for Remote Supports which would have resulted in a cut for both services not included in the final legislation.
Final Thoughts: Overall, while there are some provisions included in the bill ARRM has concerns over, we are pleased to see increased investments in services that support people with disabilities across the state. We are eager to continue working with the legislature during the 2022 legislative session to build off of these investments and address future areas of change not addressed this session. ARRM’s main focus going forward will be to continue advocating on behalf and finding solutions to address the crisis level workforce shortage along with building a stronger infrastructure of services that support people living in the most independent setting of their choice.
ARRM has put together a more detailed analysis of the provisions included in the bill, you can view that information here and as always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.
--Sara Grafstrom, Director of State and Federal Policy