Letter: Senate HHS Finance Bill is a strong, real investment

To the editor:

This week the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division introduced our omnibus finance bill. The bill provides $341 million in new investments, increasing funding for mental health initiatives, investing in long-term care workforce needs, improving the state’s child protection system and providing patients with greater access to medication by reforming the prior authorization process.

As vice-chair of the division, I am proud to present a budget that balances the needs of Minnesotans with good fiscal policy.

The Senate‘s proposal protects investments in public health and prevention and provides much-needed funding for seniors, mental health, child protection and high-quality child care.

Unfortunately, the House HHS bill would abolish MinnesotaCare, a model program that helps the working poor receive quality health care. Overall, the House proposal seeks to eliminate over $1 billion worth of programs for Minnesotans. In doing so, they overestimate the amount of savings that can be achieved and place the burden on families in need of health care.

On the other hand, the Senate uses prudent fiscal management and directs state investments in ways to help reduce health disparities, improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and provide greater access to health care and housing.

These strategic investments are critical to providing all Minnesotans with access to the care and opportunities they need to provide a better future for their families. Additionally, the reforms proposed by the Senate promote bending the health care cost curve by targeting needs and investing in prevention, which saves taxpayer dollars in the long run.

The Senate’s budget is based on real accounting, not gimmicks or shifts. It is my hope that in the final weeks of session, legislators come to the table with serious reflection on Minnesota values when it comes to protecting the sick, the poor and the vulnerable. The Senate has demonstrated just that with our budget proposal. I will do all I can to bridge our differences without compromising our shared values.

Melisa Franzen

Edina

Franzen is the Minnesota State Senator for Edina.