April 2022 Legislative Update: Time is running out and compromise remains elusive

By Sara Grafstrom posted 04-11-2022 08:38

  

Friday, April 8th marked the third committee deadline for the legislature. This is the point where all bills must be through the committee process and both the House and Senate turn their attention to floor action. The third committee deadline is also the point where both the House and Senate release their omnibus policy and spending bills and set their positions going into the end of the legislative session.

Below, please find an overview of the omnibus bills as they currently stand.

Senate Human Services Reform and Finance Omnibus Policy Bill

In late March, the Senate Human Services Reform and Finance committee passed out of committee their omnibus policy bill (SF 4165) The bill contains provisions that do not have a cost, any provisions contained in the bill that do have a fiscal cost will be removed when the bill is heard in the Senate Finance Committee.

The following ARRM provisions are included in the bill:

  • A new hour-unit of services for Individualized Home Supports with Training. This language will also remove the daily rate option.
  • Removing the requirement for a separate license or variance when providing services with technology during the overnight hours
  • Allowing for three additional extensions to a two-year transitional lease. This language will result in the ability to request up to four extensions to a transitional lease for individuals that are living in their own homes.
  • Creation of a certification process for Out-of-Home Respite in an unlicensed setting when the service is provided to individuals under 18 and allowing providers to access an Adam Walsh Background Study equivalent level study for the staff supporting individuals under 18.

Other provisions that we are tracking in the legislation include:

  • Proposed changes to the Service Termination statute and Planned Closure statute that would provide the Commissioner of Human Services with additional power to approve setting closures
  • Removing the sunset date for establishing a 5-bed home and changing the 5-person threshold to 6
  • Allowing ICFs to serve up to 8 individuals and be zoned as a residential setting

Senate Human Services Reform and Finance Omnibus Spending Bill

The Senate Human Services Reform and Finance omnibus spending bill (SF 4410) was released in early April. The bill had a “budget priority” dollar figure set of $1.3 billion, $300 million of that was the Long-Term Care Rescue package (SF 2786) which Senator Abeler and Senator Housley passed out of committee earlier in session.

Of the total spending in SF 4410, 26%, or $339 million will have a direct impact on Home and Community Based Waiver Services or ICF/DD services. Below are highlights of the bill:

  • $225 million spent in adjustments to the Disability Waiver Rate system. This includes full implementation of the Competitive Workforce Factor on January 1, 2023, as well as additional adjustments to factors impacted by the BLS and CPI on January 1, 2023.
  • $14.5 million spent on rate increases to homemaker services
  • $60 million spent to create a floor for ICF/DD rates. For Class A facilities a new rate floor of $300 per day, for Class B facilities, a new rate floor of $400 per day is established. For those facilities not impacted by the rate floor, a $50 per day increase would be added to rates.
  • $717,000 spent on increasing the Base Wage Index for the Employment Exploration Service
  • Approximately $1 million spent to remove unit-based respite from the Disability Waiver Rate System, making all respite a market rate service
  • $1.2 million to expand the use of Shared Services
  • Approximately $3 million to develop the Life Sharing Service
  • $2.79 million additional funding for the Emergency Staffing pool and extending that pool until June 2023
  • $31 million spent in new Residential Settings Closure Prevention Grants to support residential programs that at risk of immediate closure to remain open until the duration of individual resident’s service termination notice

House Human Services Finance and Policy Omnibus Bill

On Friday, April 8th, the House Human Services Finance and Policy committee passed it’s omnibus spending and policy bill (HF 4579). This bill will eventually be combined with the Health Finance and Policy Omnibus bill (HF 4706). The two bills together have a net fiscal impact in this biennium and the next biennium of over $1.7 billion.

The House Human Services Finance and Policy Omnibus bill includes significantly less proposals that would impact HCBS Waiver services and ICF/DD services. None of ARRM’s policy language was included in the bill and during committee on Friday an amendment was offered to the bill that removed the Best Life Alliance proposal that would increase the Competitive Workforce Factor, effective January 1, 2023, and update the data used for other BLS and CPI adjustments. Proposals of note that did move forward in the bill include:

  • $118 million for Long Term Care Workforce Revitalization Grants
  • Nearly $2 million for the further development of HCBS Shared Services
  • $170,000 to conduct a study of ICF/DD rates and make recommendations to the 2023 legislature
  • $135,000 to develop the Life Sharing Service
  • $717,000 to increase the Base Wage Index for the Employment Exploration Service
  • $3.3 million for Emergency Background study credits
  • Nearly $10 million spent to increase homemaker rates

Looking ahead, the Senate legislation will go in front of the Finance Committee, House legislation needs to be heard in the Ways and Means Committee before both get full votes on the House and Senate floor. Following those votes, the bills will go to Conference Committee where legislators will be tasked with coming to an agreement on one piece of legislation. The legislature is on break for the Easter/Passover holiday and will be back in St. Paul on Tuesday, April 19th.

ARRM will be heavily focused on ensuring that as many priorities that are contained in the Senate omnibus bill make it through Conference Committee into the final piece of legislation. We will be looking to you all for your support in advocacy and action alerts, as well as issue experts as we work with conference committee members once they are announced.

Thank you for all you do and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions about any of the provisions listed above.

 

--Sara Grafstrom

 

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