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July 28, 2011     Tri-County News
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Pa e2 Thursday, July 28,2011 News Kimball, MN Special Legislative By Mi~:helle Fischbach State Senator The state ~zovernment shutdown ended ~ifter t'he legislature met in special sessibn on July 19, and into the morning of July 20. The follow- ing is a summary of what was done during speci~J session. Health and 4uman Services This bill repeals the provider tax, creates ~ defined contribution to privatize public health care for some MinnesotaCare recipients, and provides increased funding to small, rural nursing homes and rural pharmacies. It prevents wel- fare fraud hy strengthening wel- fare eligibility requirements and placing greater restrictions on the use of EBT ards. It also provides flexibility Lo ensure effective, quality, acc6,ssible health care. Major provisions agreed upon to achieve significant structural reform are: Repeal of nursing facility and hospital rebasing. Rebasing will no longer show up in the tails and will reduce the t ls by more than a half a billion dollars. Bebasing, which is the mechanism by which hospitals are supposed to keep up with med- ical inflatioh over time, has been delayed for the past several years. Medical As. istance fee-for- service caps and management puts a limit on the Med- This icaid fee-for-service spending for the next fohr years and manages the population in hopes of achiev- ing the best possible outcome and cost-effective care. Management and limitations on Elderly and Developmental Disability Waivers ",, The change will control the number of people allowed on the waiver programs and seeks to encourage the most effective use possible of the limited waivers. A version of the Healthy Min- nesota Defined Contribution pro- gram was included in the bill, cov- ering adults without children at above 200-percent Federal Pov- i ! erty Guidelines (FPG) in Minne- sotaCare. All other populations including elderly, disabled, and children will remain on Medi- cal Assistance. This is a signifi- cant step, as it allows this portion of MinnesotaCare to accept per- sonal responsibility for their own health care and enroll in the pri- vate market. This budget bill includes the Governor's executive order to enroll early in Medical Assistance, but also ensures that reforms and cost containment efforts would be done to serve the adults without children below 75-percent FPG. The bill asks the federal gov- ernment for a series of waivers. but no savings can be attributed to the waiver requests that allow Session summary: What you need to know for reform, cost containment, and future savings within Minnesota's public health care system. There are several areas that would be affected if the federal government allows the waivers. The redesign of home- and community-based ser- vices involves realigning existing funding, services, and supports for people with disabilities in order to ensure a more sustainable system. Changes to the Elderly Waiver seek to improve access to housing, redesign of assessment tools, tran- sition and relocation efforts, refi- nancing of Alternative Care and Essential Community Supports, and providing Med!gap coverage for those not eligible for MA. The health care delivery dem- onstration projects involve test- ing alternative payment service and delivery models for Minne- sota Health Care Plan' fee-for-ser- vices recipients and managed care enrollees and support an improved primary care coordina- tion model for recipients. County Consolidation A strictly policy-related reform was the inclusion of County Service Delivery Authority. This proposal is a significant reform and allows multiple counties to consolidate human service departments into a single delivery authority. Provider Tax relief The Health and Human Ser- vices agreement includes tax relief from the MinnesotaCare provider tax with a blink-on or -offdepend- ing on the financial structure of the Health Care Access Fund. The current rate of 2.5 percent is adjusted accordingly depending on the fund's balance. At the end of 2019, the provider tax is repealed. EBT Card Fraud Prevention This provision requires-the recipient's name to appear on an EBT card, prohibits purchase of alcohol and tobacco, and stipu- lates that fraudulent use of the card will result in loss of benefits. MFIP Changes This makes changes for recip- ients such as: political campaign work cannot count toward work requirements; requires people with vehicles that have a value of $10,000 or more to claim them as assets. State Government Government reforms begin within the state agencies. The reforms enacted in special session lay the foundation for long-term cost savings and start to change how state government operates and delivers services. Funding Funding for constitutional offices, the Legislature, and stme agencies was reduced by 5 per- cent. Funding for Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs is increased by 2.7 percent and 6 percent respectively. Pay for Peformance Though a pilot project, Min- nesota Management & Budget (MMB) may issue up to $10 million in appropriation bonds for perfor- mance contracts with nonprofits that achieve savings in excess of their grant amount. More about the Kingston Veterans Memorial For the Kingston Veterans The designing and engrav- Memorial which is being created to ing which was so careflaUy done is honor the veterans of the Kingston attributed to Ron Dietman of Free Ave., Dassel MN 55325. E-mail is veterans memorial.l @gmaiL com, or call ]ulie Orn at (320) 398-2688, or Sandy Smith at 398-8025. The dedication ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at the memorial in downtown Kings- ton, followed by lunch afterward at the community center. area, we have further information Bird Monuments of Kimball. about the work of preparing it. Donations can be sent to The beautiful black granite that City of Kingston, 30840 722nd is used for the monument and pav- ers is from Mesabi Granite of Bab- bitt, Minn. We want to specify that the pol- ishing and cutting of the stone was done by Capital Granite of Rock- viile. Installing the stone was done by AHE Granite of Kimball. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (left) and Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bills Wednesday, July 20, that ended the historic 21-day shutdown of the Minnesota state government. Submitted photo. IT Consolidation The Office of Enterprise Tech- nology is given the responsibility of managing the state's data cen- ter, servers, desktops, data network, and other information technology activities. All state agency employ- ees who work primarily with IT are made employees of OET. E-Verify Businesses that contract with the State are required to use the E-verify citizen status check system to yetiS" legal residency of employees. Health Care Savings MMB may offer an incentive program to SEGIP (State Employee Group Insurance Program) pa rtic- ipants if the group achieves collec- tive health care cost savings. One- half of the savings may be paid to the employees' health care sav- ings accounts as a reward. SEGIP Dependent Audit MMB is required to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for dependent eligibility verification audit services for the state-paid medical benefits provided to state employees and their dependents. Removing ineligible dependents from state-paid insurance cover- age has an estimated savings of $1.7 million to the General Fund. State Employee Performance Pay State agencies are required to perform performance apprais- als for all state agency employees, making salary increases subject to improved ratings. Taxes The Legislature's tax bill pro- vides direct tax relief to home- owners, farms, and small busi- nesses, sales tax exemptions for townships and public water safety, minimizes cuts to local govern- ment aid, and provides tax incen- tives for job creation. Property Tax Relief Targeted property tax relief is preserved by providing more direct property tax relief to mid- dle- and lower-income homeown- ers through an increase in the homeowner's property tax refund program. Tax Conformity Changes Important federal tax confor- mity is included to simplify tax- payer filing and tax administration. Notably, marriage penalty relief is not conformed to, partial list of pro- visions that Minnesota would con- form to includes the higher educa- tion tuition credit, health benefits to age 26. working family credit for 2011 only, andthe classroom educa- tor expenses credit. No Political Subsidy The~Political Contribution Pro- gram is suspended for two more years. Local Government Aid (LGA) By freezing funding at 2010 lev- els, cities and counties are given stability and are spared from fur- ther reductions. Jobs/Economic Development Reform is created in the area of economic development with the creation of competitive grants rather than the bureaucratic pro- cess of pass-through grants (leg- islative earmarking), with start- up capital directed toward small businesses. Session/To page 5 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Tri-County News, RO. Box 220, Kimball MN 55353. The Tri-County News (USPS 639- 180) is entered at the Post Office, Kimball, Minnesota 55353, as Periodi- cals. It is published Thursdays by the Tri-County NewS, Inc., P.O. Box 220, Kimball MN 55353, Stearns County. LOCATION: Our office is at 70 Main Street South in downtown Kimball. Weekday office hours are Monday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesday through Fri- day 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Our telephone and fax number is (320) 398-5000. E-mail can be addressed to . Our Web site is . We also have a drop site at Ertt Hardware Hank in downtown Watkins. DEADLINE: 2 p.m. Monday. RATES: Subscription rates are $36/year (526 for age 62 and older) in Minnesota;, 546/year ($36 for se- niors) elsewhere in the U.S. SingLe copy price is 75 cents. STAFF: Jean Doran Matua, Editor and Publisher Sue Hughes: Creative Designer Maxine Doran: Admin. Associate Marguerite baabs: Photographer Marlene A. Young: Ad SaLes Rep Lexi I~ulau: Intern The staff of the Tri-County News recognizes that it has a responsibili- ty to report the news accurately and fairly, and that it is accountable to the public. PLease contact our office if you feet we've fatten short of that objective. LETrERS: The Tri-County News welcomes Letters promoting the ex- change of ideas and opinions. To be considered for publication, letters should address a topic of current or general interest. Private thanks, po- litical self-promotion, Libelous letters, or letters denigrating character or reputation wilt not be published. All letters must bear the writer's signa- ture, address and telephone number. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and readability. LEGAL PUBLICATION: The Tri- County News is the publication of record for the city of Kimball, Inde- pendent SchoOl District #739, Clear- water River watershed District, Stea- ms County, and the Townships of Fair Haven, Kingston and Maine Prairie. RECYCLING: The Tri-County News is printed with soy inks on re- cycled paper whenever possible. We encourage recycling. COPYRIGHT: ALL content herein is the property of the Tri-County News and is protected by U.S. copyright law; content f~ay not be reproduced without our written prior consent. We are proud to be a member of: Minnesota Newspaper Assoc. Kimball Area Chamber Kimball Area Historical Society Stearns County Press Assoc. 2011 MNAAd Contest first-pLace winner; 2010 MNAAward for Best Website; 2010 MNA Award for Best Self-Promotion Ad; 2010 MNAAward for Best Color Ad; 2010 MNAAward for Best Nws Photo; 2009 MNA Award for BeSt SeLf-Promotion Ad; 2008 MNA Award for Best Advertise- ment; 2008 Award for Portrait and PersonaLity Photography; 2007 MNA Award for Advertising ExcelLence; 2007 MNA Award, Best Information Graphic; 2006 MNA Award, Classified Adver- tising; 2004 MNA Award, Advertising Excellence; 2000 MNA Award, Best Local News Story. 2011, Tri-County News