Governor Pawlenty’s Proposed Budget Initiatives for MDH and Public Health
Governor Pawlenty’s proposed state budget for the 2008-2009 biennium includes several significant initiatives for the Minnesota Department of Health and public health.
These initiatives—which are designed to further protect and improve the health of all Minnesotans—are summarized below.
Several initiatives continue critical investments that began last legislative session in the areas of pandemic influenza preparedness and e-Health:
- Pandemic Influenza Preparedness ($19.75 million). This proposal supports the capability of MDH, local public health and the health care system to be ready for pandemic influenza. It includes $10 million for supplies; $5 million for antivirals; $2.75 million for MDH activity, including ongoing laboratory testing, epidemiology investigation of potential cases, and exercises; and $2 million for local public health and tribal governments.
- e-Health ($18.5 million). This proposal will make investments in health information technology to improve patient safety, interconnect clinicians and communities, and strengthen and improve public health in Minnesota. $17 million will be made available for grants.
Part of the governor’s new Healthy Connections initiative involves MDH:
- The Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange ($12.1 million). This exchange will promote several key goals of the governor’s overall health care reform proposal: improving affordability of health insurance, streamlining administrative burden on employers, and providing private health insurance options to people who are eligible for MinnesotaCare.
Several initiatives address critical infrastructure needs across the department:
- Compensation Adjustment ($2.02 million). The governor has proposed sufficient funding for each state agency to support a portion of the salary-related cost increases we will expect to face in the coming biennium.
- Disease Surveillance ($4 million). This proposal will develop and implement an integrated statewide disease surveillance system that will comply with emerging national standards and requirements. The new system will improve the detection and response to bio-terrorism events, disease outbreaks such as pandemic flu, and trends in chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. This proposal complements the e-Health proposal because it enables MDH to exchange data electronically with partners who are investing in electronic health information technology.
- Laboratory Operations ($2.225 million). This proposal provides additional funding for our Public Health Laboratory to cover new and unanticipated costs associated with lease rates and the operation of the new laboratory building. This proposal ensures that our Public Health Laboratory is able to both respond to public health emergencies and to support core public health functions.
Filling critical gaps
Several initiatives address specific program areas in MDH where other funding sources are diminishing or the need for additional funding is critical.
- MN ENABL ($1 million). Additional TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) resources will replace federal funds to allow Minnesota to maintain its current MN ENABL (Education Now and Babies Later) program at its current funding level.
- MERC ($16 million). Additional Health Care Access Funds will be used to offset the loss of federal funds and will ensure continued support for the clinical training of physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants, and chiropractors. In addition, funding will support efforts within hospitals and training programs to support the state’s policy goals related to increasing access to mental health services and ensuring a sufficient primary care workforce.
- Loan Forgiveness ($1.69 million). Additional Health Care Access Funds will allow MDH to consolidate funding for this program into one account, and continue to meet policy goals and maintain service levels into the next biennium.
- Tuberculosis ($1.3 million). TB rates are rising, specifically antibiotic-resistant strains. This proposal supports diagnostic work in our public health laboratory, the purchase of medications, and case management activity at the local level.
- Home Visiting ($8 million). Additional TANF funds will provide grants to local public health agencies and tribal governments for the provision of family home visiting services. Increasing and stabilizing funding will enable Minnesota’s local public health and tribal health agencies to expand their services to improve the health and well-being of women, children and families, particularly those at highest risk for poor health outcomes.
- Health Care Access Survey ($600,000). This proposal will allow MDH to conduct a health insurance survey of Minnesota households, in partnership with the University of Minnesota.
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders ($1.8 million). This proposal will expand current efforts to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
The final group of initiatives allows MDH to continue its regulatory activities by adjusting fees in several areas: occupational therapy, hearing instrument dispensing, housing with services, mortuary science, home care services, newborn screening, laboratory specimen handling and the State Well Program.
Learn more about these proposals at the Minnesota Department of Finance Web site:
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