GOP Bill Cuts Health Care, Disability Services

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A House GOP health and welfare bill unveiled Monday would slash spending on home care and other services for seniors and disabled people, eliminate MinnesotaCare health care for 7,200 working adults and ask the federal government for permission to cut the much larger Medicaid health plan for the poor.

The proposed cuts for the second-biggest piece of the budget emerged as Republicans who run the Legislature parceled out budget bills for various spending areas. They are fashioning an alternative to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to raise high-end income and property taxes to erase a projected $5 billion deficit over the next two years.

Top House Republicans on health and human services issues said the plan would reduce projected spending on health and welfare programs by $1.6 billion. They said current spending levels are unsustainable.

“We have to start doing things better so that we can keep the promises we’re making instead of making promises we can’t keep with money we don’t have,” said House Health and Human Services Reform Committee Chairman Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud. “We’ve been doing that for too long. It’s not getting us anywhere.”

Another piece of the House budget — for state agencies — includes a 15 percent reduction in the state work force by 2015, a pay freeze for state employees through July 2013 and a plan to block raises for state workers unless they pass a performance evaluation.

A Senate panel was poring over a K-12 schools budget proposal on Monday afternoon.

The bills are a starting point for end-of-session budget talks. None are likely to become law as proposed because of Dayton’s veto power. There are also differences between the House and Senate budget plans that will be hashed out in conference committees.

The House health bill would cut almost $500 million from services such as home health aides and home-delivered meals intended to keep elderly and disabled people out of nursing home care, though House Health and Human Services Finance Committee Chairman Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said the number is likely to shift as the bill goes through the committee process this week.

Another $300 million in cuts would penalize the least efficient medical providers. The bill also banks $300 million in Medicaid cuts, based on the assumption that the federal government would approve a waiver allowing the state to reduce spending on the program.

MinnesotaCare would disappear for childless adults who make more than about $22,000 a year. For those making between about $15,000 and $22,000, the program would turn into a sliding-scale subsidy to buy private health insurance.

The House bill doesn’t touch a Medicaid expansion Dayton ordered for almost 100,000 vulnerable adults or attempt to block Minnesota’s participation in the federal health care overhaul.

Democrats slammed the proposal, saying Republicans are going after the vulnerable to protect the wealthy from tax increases.

“They’re cutting seniors and the disabled and kids by immense amounts,” said House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.

The House state government bill prescribes $95 million in spending reductions for state departments. It also creates a sunset commission to look at abolishing state agencies and eliminates a layer of political appointees in state agencies.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Ralph bets nope

    yo there GOP – you got that cut in there for your health care, salary and per diem too, right!?
    Ohhhhhhhh …. you no have to play the game now? How come you conservatives? And Liberals — what you say? You gonna play the 180 and say we have to cut ours too? If so you would get my vote for the first time in 20 plus years.If not – you still may as you were the hypocrites proposing this bill. ;-)

    • jimmy

      Sorry Grandma but the GOP death squad says you have to die.

  • Troy Linck

    The real agenda begins… death squads – what a joke… the real death squads are the republicans who are making decision that will truly affect seniors and poor people… This is disgusting.

    • gail

      It’s a fact of life that it costs a lot to have other people take care of your loved one. What did people do when they didn’t have all this government money to spend on nursing homes? I understand it’s hard but that’s when you have to stop looking at life as going on forever. IT DOESN’T. So many people insist upon keeping their loved one alive by bringing them to the hospital time and time again even though they probably should have died 10 years ago and have no quality of life for the past 10 years. No one is saying kill them, but you don’t need to keep every person alive til there’s no more epinephrine to give them to keep their heart beating. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You are born and then eventually everyone dies. It’s a fact of life, but we can’t accept that in America because we’re so afraid of dying because we have no relationship with God.

      • Naomi

        Gail eff you! My mom is in end stage renal failure and does dialysis 3 times a week. She wants to live. Not just her loved ones. Your a one sided person and selfish! God don’t like ugly and babe you just cracked the mirror. Your kind of ideologues put us in this mess. Thanks!

      • Anita Newhouse

        Gail- spoken as someone who lacks the wisdom of actually having made the choices you are advocating. It’s all good in theory, huh?

      • Rita

        Gail….my dear… it is obvious you have never looked into the eyes of an elder in your family when they are depending upon you for care. These are the people who fixed your boo-boos…. who baked your b’day cakes…. who went to your concerts or games….. who provided you with things you wanted. Maybe someday their care and their lives will be in your hands and only then will you understand the honor that has been placed upon you. Hopefully by then your heart will not be so hard and cold.

      • PAUL

        gail are you volunteering your family or youself GET FING REAL how can you say sorry mom I’m not taking you to the hospital JUST DIE !!! I’m Sorry but I would Never say that to ANYONE I feel sorry for you and your elderly family actually I have two words for you GROW UP!!!!!………….YOU WILL MISS THEM WHEN THERE GONE !!

  • Rick

    Are they crazy?? These are the people that need the most help. Why don’t they take a wage cut to feel what its like to live week to week. This government is in really rough shape. We the people need to be more involved to get some of these losers out of office. We need to protect the seniors and the disabled. My god they/elected officails need to work every day like the rest of us and not take months at a time off. Thier work should never be done.

    • ryan

      According to modern liberal ideology – everybody can pretty much fit into the mold of people who need “help the most”……a line has be drawn somewhere. Everyone being on the public dole is not sustainable. Pitting the middle class against itself is not sustainable. At least the republicans are putting ideas out there as opposed to liberals who lack any leadership skills in this state because they might make someone mad – such a strategy will lead to certain fiscal collapse. You can take all the rich man’s wealth in this country and the country will still be in debt.

      Offer some ideas, some reforms – dont stand on the sidelines bashing people who are willing to say the unpopular….but necessary things.

      • Look at all the stupidity!!!

        According to the repubs like you there are only 2 types of people in the country, repubs and “liberals”. Try to educate yourself before you try to educate others as there are more political affiliations than those 2. Scary and sad that repubs feel this way as they always say someone is “liberal” if they don’t believe the same thing as you do. Go figure that you (repubs) get it wrong again just like all the other “liberal” stuff that you all preach about.

  • Peggy Hansen

    You are crazy to punish the most vulnerable segment of our populations. I will never vote Republican.

    • ryan

      And Im sure voting for a republican was never an option for you anyways.

  • Brad

    Well I suppose if you’re no longer “contributing” to someone’s wealth there’s no more need for your dried up husk. Might as well let it die and throw it in the ground as soon as possible.
    Secondary to that, follow the money to which nursing homes donated the most and see if their occupancy rates go down since the new clients are arriving.

  • Ugly Bill

    Nothing like being judge and jury on who gets services and such.
    My new motto is
    Go GOP. Play God for a day. Hip Hip Horray

    Tomoorow they want a bill on the table for the new camps they proposing.
    Come and play — we’ll help you stay under control and free housing. If you are fortunate we may even let you into the big shower room.
    Yep – the GOP has really become a bunch of rapid ugly smelly dogs

    • ryan

      “Nothing like being judge and jury on who gets services and such”

      This can be said about the democrats on a federal level from 2008-2010. Not quite sure what to make of your comment outside of you probably think there is some sort of magical pot of gold somewhere thats going to pay for everyone being on unemployment, having free healthcare, and any other item or privelege it becomes fashionable to deem as a “right”.

      Taxing the rich? Tax them. Tax them all you want. And when you realize you are still a billions of dollars short, then will you actually in some critical thinking skills?

      • Tom


        What have all those budget cuts given us? It seems the more they cut the bigger the deficit gets. That is called lack of critical thinking skills when all you are willing too do is cut , cut, cut and not wiilling too consider other options.

  • KickTheBucketT

    GOP health plan:

    1. Don’t get sick, you lazy ingrate.
    2. If you do get sick, die quickly!!


    Mr. T

  • Down with the GOP

    Anyone with any doubts regarding the Republican agenda better wake the hell up. Cuts for the most needy but by God don’t add any taxes to the millionares.

  • tiredandretired


    • ryan

      I dont think Jesus said “Corrupt the political system so that you can have your neighbor pay for the mortgage on your house, healthcare, car, food, and daycare”

      • Mel

        When the disciples suggested to Jesus that he send the crowd that was following him away so the people could go into the towns to get something to eat, Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “you feed them!”. There’s a reason why a church used to be the center of a town. I believe it’s a great opportunity for people of faith to rise up and feed, clothe and help the needy. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus tell his followers to send the poor to the local government for help.

      • PAUL

        and how’s behind the corrupt political system …………………………………the rebublickings

  • cinn

    I’ll give you a million bucks if you can find anything in that bill about corporate tax increases. Most huge corporations pay little to none, and you thank the GOP for that.

    Sure, take Grandma’s fixed income, but stay away from Medtronics, 3M, and General Mills! Jerks.

    • ryan

      And I’ll give you a million bucks if you can find a way to pay for all the programs that are currently in place that liberals feel it would be the end of the world if they were rolled back WITHOUT indirectly taxing the middle class.

      The greatest myth on liberal ideology is the belief that taxing a business doesnt roll down to the consumer or that taxing individually wealthy people actually bring in the projected dollar amounts (it never does).

      If you fix the tax code you will get more revenue from the wealthy, but you will also have to scale back the exemptions/credits/deducations for the middle class. But hey, it’s fun to blame a political party when you dont understand your own ideology, right?

      • DUH

        “But hey, it’s fun to blame a political party when you don’t understand your own ideology, right?”
        Sounds like someone puts a lot of time into trying to call others ideas bad w/o looking into the ideas they have. Not 1 time do you have something constructive to add, just trying to belittle others. So what are your ideas? Just as I thought, none given as none floating around that thick skull, just keep blowing other candles out to try to have yours burn brighter.
        How about the We fix the system the way that the GOP has always tried in the past. Drop more taxes for the wealthy and corp. taxes and then increase property taxes (cause the trickle down affect has done soooo much). Wait I got it lets just give more money to wall street to gamble with in junk bonds (and before you state Obama did this look back and see that Bush already had this in place when Obama was coming into office). How about making a bigger war on drugs so that would feed more money into a never ending vacuum of money sucking that has no positive outlook? But it is just the “liberals” that have bad ideas huh? Think about your ideas before you act like such a smart a$$ why don’t you?

      • steve

        Ryan, you obviously have a lot of time on your hands. Maybe you should volunteer some of your free time to help these elderly people and do something worthwhile with your time!!!

  • Bogie1

    Just who in the State GOP are the authors & architects of this bill? I’m interested to know if the person representing my district has a hand in it.

  • Judy

    Of course GOP doesn’t care, those people don’t make political contributions to them.

    • ryan

      Most people dont make contributions to political candidates period. It doesnt matter what programs are in place. Do you think the democrat party is rich off of campaign contributions from people who received Medicaid or Medicare? Probably not.

      • PAUL

        the rebublickings get it from BIG F******iNG corporations

  • Tom

    if you kick all the foreign people off minnesota care you would save millions they don’t pay taxes and get everything for free.

  • Betty

    So they take away funding intened to keep folks out of much more expensive nursing homes. Ane they are proposing cutting funding for those who have to go to the nursing homes. I think we know that the republicans in this state don’t care about you if you are over 65. All you seniors who voted for repulicans and your children who will have to take care of you. I don’t want to hear any crying until you vow not to vote republican again

    • ryan

      How’s that old saying go? If you’re 18 years old and not a liberal then you dont have a heart, but if you’re 40+ years old and not a conservative then you dont have a brain?

  • Ayako

    I am a Republican and I think this is the stupidest decision EVER! Just wait until THEY get old… Or, end up being disabled. They’ll change their tune REAL fast.

    I don’t see why they didn’t make pay cuts to their fat salaries and end their bonuses to start with. And, do school superintendents NEED to make over 100K a year, and do other fat cats such as college presidents NEED to also make over 100K a year just to run a school? It’s not like they are in charge of people’s lives daily, and have to make sure they don’t kill people, like an airline pilot has to. Cutting big government paychecks would be a good way to save money, not by cutting programs for those who actually need help. And, I don’t mean the losers who pretend they have a disability just to get money from the government. Those people do exist and I’d like to see them tossed in prison for fraud. How they manage to convince people they are disabled is beyond me! They need more strict screenings to catch the fakes.

    Anyway, I hope this bites them in the rear in the end! They’d completely deserve it.

    • ryan

      You do know that the legislature jsut cant fire superintendents or U of M staff at will right? You make it sound like the legislature can have an up or down vote on firing someone in the school system. There’s a seperation of powers to be breached there……….I feel you dont fully understand what you are talking about.

      • PAUL

        ryan and you really understand what you are talking about …………………….ya right you moron

  • tom

    Just so rich people don’t have to pay taxes. Anything but that.

  • Mary

    Wow…this is the stupidest thing ever. Nursing home costs are way more expensive than people being able to have care in their homes. What a dumb move.

  • Just sayin'

    One point is that our welfare rolls are bursting at the seams. I can understand getting control of this over-abused give away program. But, leave the elderly and disabled alone…..look around and all of us see it everyday….young, healthy people hanging around collecting money from the state (us, the taxpayers). Let’s go after them, make them work, and pay their way…..leave the elderly alone. I have to hope the legislature will realize there are many ways to save alot of money by not giving it away to these young and middle aged leach deadbeats. Go after them. Come on folks, do we always have to attack the people who have succeeded in life and became well to do. How much do they have to pay when you have the low-life deadbeats sucking away all of our wealth?? Point your fingers at the people who should be to blame, not the workers who have been successful, and the elderly, who may be one and the same.

    • ryan

      I agree, but it would be politically tough to segment out the truly disabled from the abusers in the system. The elephant in the room is that most people know at least someone who is abusing the government dole. Its disgusting and shameful but the second you start talking about reforming these programs you will get the bleeding heart liberals do their typical drama queen nonsense acting like you are skinning their child alive or something.

      Reforming the welfare system would probably be a better bet but there is no way that either party would engage this in large numbers. Republicans want to cut, cut, cut. and democrats really have no ideas outside of “taxing the rich”……. Protecting the abused status quo welfare system is the staple of the left wing these days, sadly.

  • Dave Campbell

    Oh come on people! Haven’t you noticed all the jobs that are being created by not taxing big corporations? We really need to be more sensitive to the needs of our corporate neighbors. There is no way they can afford to pay out huge bonuses to their executives if we make them pay their fair share of taxes! Please, I beg you citizens of Minnesota! Give the wealthy a break!

  • Walker

    Tax waste Mark Don’t see a post from you or Victim guy. You guys are the big supporters of the Republicans. Silence from you

  • James

    I’d sure like this news center to cite their sources. I can’t seem to find any house legislation about reducing disability and Minnesota care benefits, in fact i’m finding bills that increase the benefits and provide more coverage such as H.F 1054 – Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2010, section 256B.0657 subdivision 12 which shows that they’re increasing program enrollment by 100% the first year and 200% the next year for a very expensive and far reaching service to disabled individuals.

    Meanwhile, everyone seems to be completely satisfied throwing mud back and forth like little kids, not one of you have personally looked into the matter and known the least bit of detail on what you’re talking about.

    Please do everyone a favor and shut it. Thanks.

  • James

    I’ll be the voice of reason. First, why do these people get other people’s tax dollars in the first place? “Disabled” does not mean what it once did. Every other child in school now has some type of “disability” How about the 25% of the public who contribution nothing but take everything man up and earn their own way. Unless you are crippled, good luck to you. Get a job like the rest of us who have been paying your way. Those of us who are not rich can’t afford your Grandma’s care. We are tapped out.

    • James

      I’m not sure who you’re talking about here, but my wife is disabled in a wheelchair, 29 years old, has cerebral palsy, and we have 5 children together. My wife has a job, albeit work from home 9 hours a day as a virtual receptionist, but she puts in an honest effort and that’s a lot more than most can say.

      Does she like relying on medicare/medicaid? Not a chance. If she was single, she would need to go to bed at 7PM and get up at 9AM because Medicare/Medicaid would only cover 10 hours of assistance per day in her case. Personal care attendants are routinely paid about $9/hour and are the life line for many disabled and vulnerable adults. If she had an emergency, she would have to wait until the next day to be taken care of. Think about how you’d like to be 29 and sit in a pile of your own butt cold if you couldn’t walk yourself to the bathroom when you were sick.

      So why are people so dependent on medicare/medicaid for this at all? Because government has destroyed the public sector health care. Try buying insurance for long-term care for a child you think will need it down the road? You simply can’t. The insurance industry is regulated to eternity and can’t provide that coverage in an open market no thanks to government. There are literally 2 types of personal care providers in the Twin Cities. There are Medicare providers who bill at the rate of $15.95/hour and pay the PCAs somewhere between $9-11/hour (mindful that these are NOT skilled employees, usually PCAs hopping from job to job, very unreliable at best). The other type are the “Visiting winged ghosts” franchises of the world who charge top-dollar. I know first hand that the Twin Cities market for privatize home care is the most expensive in the NATION. The bill rate is somewhere between $28-30/hour to the private family, and they pay the PCA employees around $10-11/hour. Why? because the only people who can afford that rate are the ones with a nest egg large enough that they don’t qualify for the free government programs! Figure that out. Government covers everyone, so the really rich folks can afford to pay a HUGE salary to the private companies.

      What’s the solution? Kill the government programs that undercut the private sector. Open up that mid-level income stream to the public sector and start developing opportunities for people to buy their own care. There are simply no more customers left to drive the costs down. Government owns everything, why do you think you see so many home health care companies in the state?

      • Polly

        I really applaud your wife, James.
        That’s fantastic that she works despite her disability. More people who claim they can’t possibly work need to look to your wife for inspiration. Everyone understands that there are limits on people but I see so many that could do some kind of work from home or wherever but decide to just take the governments money and get hooked on narcotics due to their chronic pain, then make more choices of eating too much, etc. It’s unbelievable how many of these people don’t have any personal responsibility and conscience.

      • not James

        James how is it that you are the voice of reason here? I am at a loss however as to why the heck you have 5 kids. That number with your situation makes me question your reasonableness.

  • I

    You will <3 the rest of the Republican ideas …
    <3 Reduce Local Government Aid (LGA) raising Property Taxes <3 Reduce Education Funding <3 Repeal Equal Pay for Women <3 Reduce Union Collective Bargaining fo Public Employees

  • James

    The way most of these community waivers work is that a disabled person would be allotted a “budget” of say $30-40k per year to provide self-directed support instead of nursing home support which would very likely be more expensive depending on county of residence. That 30-40k of self-directed support would go to hiring help to stay in your home longer, making modifications to your home such as ramps, door openers, accessible bathroom modifications, etc. The intention ought to be to reduce the spend on sending old folks to more expensive nursing homes and concentrate the spending on more efficient means such as the community waiver programs which provide cheaper ways to get the same or better support in your own homes.

    So when I read “The bill outlined Monday would cut almost $500 million from programs intended to keep elderly and disabled people out of nursing homes.” I say WAHOOOOO!!! because that’s a GOOOD BILLL intending on saving money that would otherwise be wasted on nursing home expenses at double the cost!!!!

    So take your headlines and shove it WCCO. Spin it to someone else please.

  • James

    Why aren’t they paying their own way?

    • James (C)

      See my comment a few rows up. Two reasons.

      1.) They can’t afford it. They can’t work, they can’t move on their own, they don’t have any family, they don’t have any friends.

      2.) The government funds them already, they don’t need a job, they don’t need to work, they don’t want to ask their family, they still have no friends (who would like a sponge anyway?)

      Simple welfare reform. Start by reducing expenses. Unless you’re prepared to sign real welfare reform, reducing the expense by taking people out of nursing homes and placing them back in their own home with better care and better resources is a win for everyone.

      Seems to be a headline for GOP = BAD when it’s really GOP = Constructive (to the limits of their ability and what political capital allows).

      Seems like there’s 2 James’s here today. i’ll be James (C) from now on.

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