Committee Summary: House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, Feb. 22

Reporting by Lolla Nur, Freelance Community Journalist and UpTake Fellow

The House Committee on Human Services Finance and Policy met at 10:30am on Feb. 22 to hear five bills, three of which were health related. 

  1. HF2461 – Rep. Robert Bierman (DFL 57A) – Commissioner of human service allowed to enter into value-based purchasing arrangements with drug manufacturers. 
  2. HF2676 – Rep Peter Fischer (DFL 43A) – Mobile nurse clinic in rural and urban areas funding provided, and money appropriated. 
  3. HF3368 – Rep. Rena Moran (DFL 65A) – would provide funding for healing in Black communities from gun violence and violence prevention.
  4. HF3159 – Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL 66B) – permanency disposition law purpose modified when child can’t be placed with parents.
  5. HF2820 – Rep. Jeff Backer (R 12A) – Big Stone County development disability intermediate care facility rate increase provided

HF2461, HF2676 and HF3368 were passed and referred to the House Health Finance and Policy committee (the committee of their jurisdiction). HF3159 as amended was referred to the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law committee. And HF2820 was laid over after discussion for possible inclusion in the Human Services and Finance omnibus bill.

More details about each bill:

House File 2461 

This bill would revamp current models for healthcare reimbursement. Specifically, it would allow the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to create a more sustainable approach to financing and reimbursement for gene and cell therapies. 

“Alternative financing approaches via outcomes-based payments over time will allow DHS to realize the potential of cost offsets over time,” according to the bill author, Rep. Bierman (DFL).

House File 2676

This bill addresses healthcare needs in underserved communities by reducing costs and bringing healthcare to them, especially in rural areas.

Kathleen Bartholomew, a registered nurse, testified stating that rural areas “feel abandoned” with nonprofit hospitals pulling out. “Mobile nurse-led clinics will help address the healthcare provider shortage,” she said. 

“Those nurses are trained to look at the social determinants of health. We want to switch the tracks to focus on prevention and wellness.” She also mentioned that over 40% of Americans have chronic disease. 

“You can’t stop the [healthcare] train, it’s too large, entrenched, hierarchical. How do we switch to prevention? Create switch tracks,” she added. “Nurses have been trained in a holistic approach.”

House File 3368

Authored by Rep. Rena Moran (DFL), HF3368 is called “Guns Down Love Up.” It focuses on restorative practices and prevention in the Black community, creating programs for healing.

“We’d like to focus on wellness and healing from the traumas and shootings in St. Paul, and create peace in the Twin Cities,” Rep. Moran said.

She said 50% of Black workers in Minnesota were laid off during the pandemic and applied for unemployment. For whites, it was 25%. Unemployment for Black workers still remained high at 10%, and for whites 5%. These inequities have also caused trauma.

The request for this bill is $800,000 over five years, working with community organizations, families, and religious organizations “to promote the message of ending gun violence and promoting love,” she said.  It would fund a youth gun violence conference and a community healing center.

“The goal is to decrease gun violence in the Twin Cities through media messaging, conflict resolution activities, and to educate the community on the traumas of gun violence on the quality of life in Minnesota,” Rep. Moran concluded.

House File 3159

Authored by Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL), HF3159 will preserve and expand the circle of support for a minor under child protection. 

The current system “dissolv[es] their already existing family and friend relationships. This bill would require permanency options to relatives before non relatives,” testified Hannah Burton with the Institute to Transfer Child Protection. 

“Under current law, when the court decides a child can’t return home, there’s a preference for terminating parental rights. This creates a barrier,” she said.

Children of color are more likely to have their parents rights be terminated, but they are also less likely to be adopted than white children. This is why there are more children of color in foster care, Burton explained.

House File 2820 

HF2820, authored by Rep. Jeff Backer (R) would increase funding for a development disability care facility for adults in Big Stone County. The facility receives the lowest imbursement in the state.

Stacey Karels, program director of the Monarch Heights facility, testified that it is the lowest funded, “well below the state average.” She listed off needs such as building maintenance, repairs, and recreational activities for the “residents to thrive and not just survive.” 

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