Health beat: Minn. aims to refocus its aid for most frail

  • Article by: WARREN WOLFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 5, 2012 - 5:37 PM

State planners are seeking public reaction to a sweeping proposal they say would better target human services spending for frail and aged Minnesotans at a time of tight government budgets.

The 144-page report, "Reform 2020: Pathways to Independence," by the Department of Human Services (DHS), follows the Legislature's directive early this year to seek federal permission to better target home- and community-based programs.

The state-federal Medicaid program will spend $8.5 billion this year on about 733,000 Minnesotans, many of them elderly or disabled; federal approval is required for many of the changes. Public comments can come at four public meetings next week or in writing by July 17.

With more precise assessment of each client's needs, some people would qualify for fewer services, but more people would get some help -- an attempt to stretch resources so more can stay home and avoid institutional care, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said.

"We're not trying to reduce more complex services to people who need them, but we do want to reach more people earlier with low-cost, high-impact support to ... reduce the need for intense care later," she said.

For instance, 1,500 more would get coaching, training, home modifications and other help to reduce the need for personal care aides, who now help 25,200 people on Medicaid.

DHS officials will offer an overview of the plan at a public meeting Tuesday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Brian Coyle Community Center, 420 15th Av. S., Minneapolis.

Meetings on specific topics include: Mental health, Monday, 9 a.m. to noon, DHS Lafayette Building, 444 Lafayette Road, St. Paul; Community First Services program, replacing some personal care aides, Tuesday, 2 to 5 p.m., Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building, 540 Cedar St., St. Paul; autistic child services, Wednesday, 2 to 5 p.m., at the Andersen Building.

For more details about the report, go to www.startribune.com/a1479.

wolfe@startribune.com • 612-673-7253

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