Senate passes health services bill, restoring some cutsby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Senate has passed its health and human services spending bill.
The legislation got a boost this week after the announcement that the state will receive an estimated $35 million from four managed-care plans that administer the state's Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs.
Republican leaders want to spend nearly $22 million of that on additional health and human services programs, some of which had been cut as part of last year's budget agreement.
However, some DFL senators argued lawmakers should restore even more of the cuts.
Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said the state should spend another $6 million on programs that pay for doctors' residency programs in rural Minnesota.
"They are teetering on the edge," Reinert said. "We need to support them so that they can produce the primary care physicians we need out in greater Minnesota, supporting really the foundation of our health care system."
Republican Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, said spending more would not be responsible. GOP leaders say they want assurance the money is available before committing to more spending.
"It only just became available; we're not sure how much of it has to go back to the federal government," Robling said. "And, you know, to use every dollar of it up that we think might be available is probably not wise."
Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill still have to be worked out.