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Session 2003

Session 2003: Health and Welfare



ISSUE UPDATE
Women will need to receive information starting July 1 about the risks and alternatives to abortion, then wait 24 hours before having the procedure done. A similar proposal made it through the Legislature in recent years, but was stopped by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty mostly got his way in proposed changes to Minnesota's welfare system. Modeled on Wisconsin's system, the state's new approach will steer applicants into intensive job-search efforts before giving them cash grants. The bills will also allow fewer activities to count as "work" and include harsher sanctions for those who don't follow them. Mothers who have additional children while they're receiving welfare also wouldn't get additional state help.

Gov. Pawlenty is pushing a plan to make it easier for Minnesotans to purchase prescriptions from across the border because drugs in Canada cost less than what the same drugs cost in the U.S. Several Canadian groups, however, are voicing concern that their health system will suffer if more Americans buy their drugs from Canada. (11/12/2003)
The ranks of the uninsured rose by 2.4 million last year as insurance costs kept rising and more Americans lost their jobs and health care coverage. However, the U.S. Census Bureau says Minnesota has the lowest rate of uninsured people in the country. In a live broadcast from Collegeville, we discuss short- and long-term solutions to rising health-care costs. ( 10/01/2003)
The effect of budget cuts continues to trickle down to communities across Minnesota. Public health administrators are worried about how they'll fulfill their mission with less money. They say some important prevention programs may be discarded. (08/27/2003)
Dentists who serve lower income adults say they expect a new law to make things difficult for them. The law, which takes effect in October, will cap state-subsidized payments for dental services at $500 per patient per year. Dentists say they're worried the law will present an ethical dilemma -- and could prompt many to decide against treating lower income individuals altogether. (08/03/2003)
Minnesota's new two-year budget took effect Tuesday, marked by protests and dire predictions. The budget erases what was projected to be a $4.2 billion deficit with one-time money, payment shifts, fee increases and spending cuts. Some proposed welfare cuts were temporarily blocked by a Ramsey County judge, but other cuts across state government began as scheduled. (07/01/2003)
The Minnesota Health Department reports Tuesday that the number of abortions performed in 2002 was the lowest since the department started collecting comprehensive annual data in 1998. The report comes on the same day that a new law that requires women to wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion goes into effect. As of today, abortion providers and family planning clinics are also required to provide women seeking an abortion with specific information about the potential risks and complications of the procedure. (07/01/2003)
Welfare revisions scheduled to take effect Tuesday are on hold after a county judge blocked the state from cutting benefits to thousands of low-income families. Ramsey County District Judge Judith Tilsen halted the benefit cuts with a temporary restraining order Monday, saying she was concerned that some of the changes were being made without federal approval. (07/01/2003)
A portion of the health and human services bill passed by the Legislature changes the way the state provides grants to Minnesota counties. Instead of providing grants to counties for specific services, county officials will receive larger block grants. Supporters of the new provision say counties will be able to prioritize spending based on their unique needs. But several special interest groups say counties may deliver money to services that have the most political clout instead of services that need the help the most. (06/23/2003)
About 4,700 Minnesota families with disabled children have until July 1 to decide whether to continue participating in a state-sponsored supplemental insurance plan. The Department of Human Services is sending letters to families notifying them that rates could go up to 1,000 percent higher as a result of state budget cuts. Proponents of the new law say the fees are based on a family's ability to pay. But several families say they can't afford the increase. (06/10/2003)
Starting in July, child care will become more expensive for thousands of Minnesota families. To help balance the state budget, lawmakers approved cuts in state child care subsidies. Overall the changes are projected to save the state more than $86 million over the next two years. But the cuts may have a secondary effect: Driving some lower-income, working families onto the welfare rolls. (06/09/2003)
Gov. Pawlenty and DFL legislative leaders began separate tours of the state on Monday to talk about the 2003 session. The governor achieved much of his legislative agenda, and is highlighting the accomplishments of the session. Democrats, on the other hand, believe the Republican-backed budget will erode Minnesota's quality of life. (06/02/2003)
Less than 12 hours after the Legislature brought a special session to a halt, finishing its work for the year, Republicans and Democrats hit the road Friday to recap what happened during their 2003 gathering. Before ending the session, lawmakers passed a $7.2 billion health and human services bill. Democrats voted against it, calling it "the meanest" of the Republican budget bills. (05/30/2003)
A successful Minnesota program that helps teenage mothers stay in school and not get pregnant again has been hit by state budget cuts. The program, which is run by the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency, is losing more than half its funds. The irony is the program has been widely recognized as a success. (05/29/2003)
Legislative negotiators are putting the finishing touches on a $7.4 billion dollar health and human services bill. They've hit a couple of snags as they wrap up the nearly 800-page bill. The bill could be the last piece of legislation passed in special session. (05/28/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders have made a major breakthrough in budget negotations. Negotiators met late Sunday night and into Monday morning to craft agreements on transportation funding, aid payments to local governments, and state borrowing. Lawmakers are expected to tackle the final piece of the puzzle: the health and human services budget. (05/26/2003)

Audio Highlights

The human services budget
Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services and Corrections Budget Division; and Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, chair of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee. (5/16/03)
Gov. Pawlenty inaugural address