For the 2019-2020 Biennium, Senator Hoffman has continued to advocate for the following:
Children with complex medical conditions can require a multitude of services to live their best possible life. It is important that hospitals inform the individuals and organizations that form the child’s care team of what occurred at the hospital and what care will be needed afterwards. Legislation Senator Hoffman passed will guarantee exactly that, so that no miscommunication or lack of communication causes a child harm. Instead, proper information to all of those involved will protect and provide the best opportunities for children with complex medical conditions in Minnesota.
Minnesota One Stop for Communities
Senator Hoffman acquired funding to assist Minnesota One Stop for Communities. This is an organization that assists parents in navigating the various public systems, particularly when child services comes to their door. Their mentors are parents who have been through this process as well, so they understand the fears and concerns and how to address the situation to keep families together.
Financial Equity for All
I have continually advocated for safe operations for our businesses to have the opportunity to economically support our families and funding to ensure that we don’t lose our businesses and valuable services provided to so many who need it. We must balance the need for safety with the ability of Minnesotans to provide for themselves, their families, and their communities. In the complicated world of Medical Assistance (MA), there exists several provisions which put the most marginalized people at a significant disadvantage. We worked in a bipartisan manner that addresses the inequities in the current Medical Assistance “spenddown” system.
I was the chief author of the MA spenddown bill and was able to get relief by increasing MA spenddown from 75% to 80%. Recently, I was a co-author on a bill to finally get that to 100%. Bringing the MA spendown to 100% provides equity to people who need MA by increasing the income and asset limits for eligibility consistent with other MA eligible people.
This legislation signed into law for 2022 will affect 40,000 people with disabilities and seniors and will make it much easier for them to remain as independent as possible in their communities. When these people receive the care they need and maintain their financial independence, they can be more active members of our communities, which is good for everyone.
I have fought to ensure that we don’t lose vital services due to a lack of funding during the COVID Pandemic. Services such as Non- Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT), Early intervention for children with disabilities, day programming, vocational training and more services that ensure people with disabilities in need of services have their right to community, respect and every opportunity to succeed.
My office ran an investigation into how our employees with disabilities are treated within our state agencies and found a myriad of issues and abuses. While there are many causes, the implementation of the program to assist them, Connect 700, was a base issue that was resisted and those who brought the best ideas ignored. The governor noticed our work and set a process in place to hopefully address this and get Minnesota to where it needs to be. I am monitoring this situation closely as it progresses to ensure that our employees all have equal access to employment and their dignity understood and respected.
Addressing Minnesota’s rising health insurance rates
I am a long-time champion of better health care access and coverage for all Minnesotans. The current rate hikes for MNsure are incredibly troubling, and there is no denying that changes must be made. We can all agree on this. But it is also important to point out that last session, Senate Democrats heard and passed three separate proposals all aimed at reducing the price of premiums. These bills did the following:
- Sought federal approval to reduce the number of geographic rating areas. These federally mandated geographic ratings have contributed to higher rates in much of rural Minnesota. Bill chief authored by Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing).
- To increase choices, we introduced legislation directing Minnesota to apply for a federal waiver making it possible for all Minnesotans to purchase MinnesotaCare. By adding a new health plan (rated statewide) all rural families win with greater choice and lower cost. Bill chief authored by Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato).
- Requested a federal waiver to allow families, with employer provided health care, to include the premiums for family plans in their calculations when determining if they are eligible for a tax subsidy. This measure allows families that currently do not qualify for premium tax credits or cost sharing reductions to reduce the cost of their plan. Bill chief authored by Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna).
In addition to these proposals, I believe we should examine a reinsurance program that provides government assistance to insurance providers for the individuals with the most expensive medical conditions. This would bring down insurance premium costs considerably for all other individuals participating in the exchange. This has already been the case with the State of Alaska in legislation that was passed this year. The Senate has been looking ahead towards increasing health costs and have put forth solutions to help our communities, but we need to do more. These proposals, once signed into law, will benefit the thousands of Minnesotans seeking access to affordable health care.
Health and Human Services Bills Supported
Children Program Funding
Two of the major investments Senator Hoffman has supported over the last four years are increased resources for our child protection system and measures to reduce barriers and increase availability for families when in need of affordable child care. (HHS 2015 Budget, 05/17/15, S.F. 1458)
- In 2015, Senator Hoffman supported an unprecedented $52 million ongoing investment in our state’s child protection system. This investment will provide counties with additional resources to better respond to child maltreatment reports and provide more tailored services to families in need.
- In the same budget, Senator Hoffman supported provisions that helped low-income families access affordable child care, so that families are able to participate in the workforce without losing money paying for child care.
Autism Treatment Options and Coverage Expansion
In each of the last four HHS budgets, the Senate has included measures to help families with children with Autism. Senator Hoffman has supported all of the Senate’s proposals and the final Conference Committee compromises. Some of the provisions include reducing the fees paid by parents of autistic children when they are accessing treatment, establishing a benefit in public programs to cover Autism-specific treatment, and requiring insurance companies to cover treatment of Autism in the private market. (HHS 2013 Budget, 05/18/13, H.F. 1233) (Omnibus Supp. 2014 Budget, 05/16/14, H.F. 3172) (HHS 2015 Budget, 05/17/15, S.F. 1458) (Omnibus Supp. 2016 Budget, 04/28/16, H.F. 2749)
Nursing Home Funding
Over the last four years, Senator Hoffman has voted for four Health and Human Services budgets that have provided more than $170 million in increased reimbursements for nursing homes. These funds are especially vital in the rural areas of our state, as in some smaller communities a nursing home may be the area’s largest employer. (HHS 2013 Budget, 05/18/13, H.F. 1233) (Omnibus Supp. 2014 Budget, 05/16/14, H.F. 3172) (HHS 2015 Budget, 05/17/15, S.F. 1458) (Omnibus Supp. 2016 Budget, 05/22/16, H.F. 2749)
5% Increase for HCBS
In 2014, Senator Hoffman supported a vital 5% rate increase for community-based providers across the state. These providers serve many people with disabilities in need of services to live within community settings. The rate increase will help providers, especially in the rural area where there is a shortage of people willing to perform these tasks, retain quality employees. (Omnibus Supp. 2014 Budget, 05/16/14, H.F. 3172)
Protecting First Responders
In times of crisis, we have always depended on our first responders to swiftly provide life-saving services to our communities. First responders are willing to risk everything to protect our families. For their courage, Senator Hoffman believes that these heroes are worth fighting for.
Senator Hoffman chief authored legislation to assist first responders if exposed on duty to bodily fluids that could potentially contain viruses and infectious diseases. Specifically, this bill allows first responders to petition courts for blood samples from source individuals to test for pathogens. On a case by case basis, the court would weigh the need for test results with the need to protect privacy, health, safety, and the public interest. (SF 3350)
We ask our active service members to risk everything in the protection of our interests around the world. It would be a shameful disservice not to offer our best efforts in protecting our veterans when they return home.
Senator Hoffman wants to ensure that none of our veterans are left behind. Since 2013, Senator Hoffman has voted for a total of $26.7 million in additional funding for veteran services and projects, including housing and mental health support. Senator Hoffman supported legislation SF 2785 that allows out of state persons who are honorably discharged from the armed forces to receive resident tuition rate at Minnesota public postsecondary institutions. Additionally, Sen. Hoffman voted for SF 2356 to make veteran-owned small businesses more competitive for government contracts up to $25,000 for goods, services, and construction. In the same bill, provisions are made to allow military retirees to deduct their military pension benefits from taxable income. This measure is estimated to save 19,000 military retirees an average of $1,315.79 per year on taxes.
After hearing the experience of Navy serviceman Douglas Washing, Senator Hoffman created a bill that allows active-duty members to retake driver’s tests without adhering to the mandatory practice period under Minnesota law. This ultimately streamlines the process by which active-duty personnel can obtain civilian driver’s licenses.
In 2014, Senator Hoffman voted in favor of allowing very ill individuals to have access to medical cannabis in very controlled situations. Eligible individuals include those near the end of life as a result of a terminal illness, children with uncontrollable seizure disorders, and cancer patients who experience severe and chronic pain. (Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act, 05/16/14, S.F. 2470)