Children’s at the Capitol: Kids’ health protected in 2013

Governor Dayton signs education bill

After a whirlwind of activity over the past five months, the 2013 state legislative session came to a close on Monday, May 20. Following a game-changing election that resulted in the democrats winning control of the Minnesota House and the Senate, the legislative session offered plenty of surprises and controversy. This ranged from passage of a $2 billion tax bill that included a $1.60 increase in the tobacco tax, to legalizing same-sex marriage and dedicating funds for all-day kindergarten.

With the state facing a budget deficit of $627 million, the Health and Human Services committees were tasked with cutting $50 million from their budget — a worrisome prospect to the healthcare community after facing repeated cuts during the past decade. Yet despite the difficult task of trimming healthcare spending, legislators left hospitals relatively unharmed and increased funding for many programs that benefit children and families.

The Health and Human Services bill passed both the legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton on May 23 includes the following:

The highlights:

  • No cuts to Medicaid. With 42 percent of our patients relying on Medicaid, this funding source is vitally important to our organization and children’s health.
  • Graduate medical education makes a comeback. The Medical Education and Research Cost (MERC) program was restored to its pre-2011 levels when it was cut by 50 percent. This funding helps ensure that Minnesota has adequate training for future pediatricians and pediatric specialists.
  • Modest rate increases for physicians, basic care, and outpatient services.
  • Continued funding for the Emergency Medical Assistance (EMA) program for cancer and dialysis services.
  • Increased training and requirements for childcare providers to help prevent Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome.
  • $35 million in funding for the Statewide Health Improvement Program for public health initiatives.
  • Significant investments in child and adolescent mental health, including funding for school-linked mental health services and coverage under MA for family psycho-education, mental health treatment and clinical care consultation.
  • Increased health insurance coverage for intensive Autism treatment.

Thank you!

In the face of budget cuts to Health and Human Services funding, concerned citizens all across the state spoke up to protect children’s health care. Here at Children’s, many providers, staff, patients and their families made a difference by reaching out to their legislators. Thank you for engaging in the process – it made a difference!
Some of our favorite moments? Governor Dayton’s visit to Children’s on Valentine’s Day and our trip to the state capitol with some our Youth Advisory Council members.

The Voice for Kids blog is a new exploration for our policy team — we hope it helped you stay up to date with some of the most pressing issues facing Children’s and kids’ health. Though the state legislature is adjourned for the year, we’ll continue working hard to be a voice for kids by following policies at the federal level and preparing for the state policy conversations that await us in 2014. We hope you’ll join us and sign up to be a voice for kids today!

Photo courtesy of GovernorDayton on Flickr. Photo: Governor Dayton signs education funding bill.