With a possible state shutdown just a couple of days away, there is an ongoing fear about what will happen with Medicaid payments to providers. Over the past two weeks, there has been a lot of jostling for position by both sides.
Through the work of Aging Services of Minnesota and the Long Term Care Imperative, they were able to get Governor Dayton to make adjustments in his brief to Ramsey County that would include these services as an essential service.
This morning (Wednesday), Pat Kessler from WCCO-TV reports that a Ramsey County judge orders govt programs to continue in shutdown: Medicaid, food stamps, nursing/vets homes, health services. Ramsey County Judge Gearin’s government shutdown order funds only limited services; reflects Dayton plan.
“On behalf of the nearly 60,000 Minnesotans and their families who rely on dedicated caregivers for daily care and support, we are relieved by the court’s ruling,” said Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota. “However, a shutdown will not be pain-free. We need a responsible state budget that will protect Minnesota’s most vulnerable adults.”
Judge Gearin wrote:
The Court Agrees that the following critical core functions of the government should continue to be funded after June 30, 2011 even if there is no resolution of the present funding dispute between the executive and legislative branches:
1) Basic custodial care for residents of state correctional facilities, regional treatment centers, nursing homes, veterans homes, and residential academies and other similar state-operated services.
2) Maintenance of public safety and immediate public health concerns.
3) Provision of benefit payments and medical services to individuals.
4) Preservation of the essential elements of the financial system of the government.
5) Necessary administration and supportive services, including by [sic] not limited to computer system maintenance, internet security, issuance of payments.
The list of critical core services largely reflected those that Governor Dayton had previously identified as core functions, and includes “Entitlements to cash, food & health care assistance to recipients.” Programs included in that category are: “Medicaid, MFIP/DWP, General Assistance & Minnesota Supplemental Aid and refugee cash assistance, Group Residential Housing, MinnesotaCare, Food Support, MN Food Assistance Program and Adoption Assistance.”
Governor Dayton had previously proposed that services should only continue for recipients eligible as of June 30, 2011 and that related payments to providers and vendors should not continue. Governor Dayton subsequently modified his proposal to remove those suggestions, and today’s court order reflects the changes.
The Judge’s ruling is narrower in scope than the District Court Order related to continued core functions in 2005. In today’s decision, only those functions that had a clear legal basis for continuation were included in the Judge’s order. For the continuation of Medical Assistance payments, the court based its decision on the state’s legal agreement with the federal government to fund the Medical Assistance program. The Judge wrote, “The duty to fulfill these agreements. . . constitute core functions for state government under the United States Constitution.”
In our petition to the court, Aging Services was purposeful in focusing on these core legal arguments. Today’s ruling indicates that was indeed the right approach to take under the intense circumstances of the current budget situation. Those parties that argued that simply argued that they would be negatively impacted by a shutdown and did not cite legal arguments did not fare as well. For example, child care assistance programs (except for the federal TANF program) were not deemed essential, nor was the regulation of horse racing, the Minnesota Zoo (except for the basic care of the animals), nor were most road construction projects.
Special Master Appointed
The Court also appointed former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz as a Special Master who will hear and make recommendations to the Court regarding any issues relating to the Court order. Information regarding how to set up a hearing before the Special Master will be made available soon.
Aging Services of Minnesota is currently evaluating whether there are outstanding issues that should be considered by the Special Master.
CLICK HERE: (http://www.mncourts.gov/Documents/2/Public/Civil/Executive_findings_of_fact.pdf) to read the entire Court Order.