3/9/2017 4:43:00 PM County Board hears VSO retiring and Medicaid concerns
Chisago County Commissioners heard last week that the recruitment of a successor to Al Budde is starting soon. Budde is retiring as county Veterans Service Officer May 31. He also served the county as child support staff director for years before stepping in as VSO, when Jim Halstrom retired.
Another longtime (37 years) county social worker Laurie Karp used the public microphone portion of last week’s meeting agenda, to say thank you to the County Board for her career in Health & Human Services. Karp said she has memories of countless positive opportunities; since starting in social work fresh out of college, “ready to change the world.”
County Health and Human Services Director Nancy Dahlin, in her monthly report to the county board members, cautioned commissioners that federal dollars are being considered to be shifted to other needs as recommended to Congress by the Trump Administration.
The program may re-transition into “block grants” which historically end up creating more costs at the state level, she explained. A move to per capita “allotments” is also not ideal. Clients’ needs vary-- the range in Medical Assistance expenditures can be anywhere from a couple thousand for the year, to $158,554 for one client’s annual expenditure, according to a report given to the state legislature last month.
The median cost annually was $2,713.
The Home and Community Based Services Financial Oversight report is on-line under the Office of the Legislative Auditor at www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us
Dahlin said, “Either approach would result in a devastating cut in Medicaid spending at the federal level. Minnesota will be forced to absorb these cuts in the state budget.”
Reducing the budget impact statewide will mean limiting access to care, reducing benefits, or reducing provider payment rates.
Home and Community based services alone (part of Medicaid waivers) have 500 plus person enrolled and amounts to $26 million overseen by the county’s Aging and Disabilities Unit. Dahlin said HHS Directors feel there is not enough money at the state level to fill the hole in the federal funding and, “it’s a big, big issue” in Chisago County.
In other business March 1, the Board: ~ Appointed Kirsten Hagen Kennedy to the county HRA/EDA. The vote was 5-0.
Commissioner Lora Walker first motioned to appoint Jason Gamble. Gamble is a banker and the county economic development organization currently could use some professional finance expertise, Walker stated. The Gamble appointment failed 2-3.
No votes included Commissioners Mike Robinson and Rick Greene, who have portions of North Branch in their districts, and said they were requested by constituents to get a central-county resident appointed
Commissioner George McMahon, appearing via Skype from a remote site, motioned for applicant North Branch Mayor Hagen Kennedy and she was appointed 5-0.