Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mixed Results in Special Session Budget Deal

On July 20th, 2011 Governor Dayton signed into law the set of budget bills that ended the nearly three-week state government shut-down. The overall budget agreement relied on significant budget cuts, borrowing $700 million against future tobacco settlement dollars (tobacco bonds), and additional K-12 education funding delay of $700 million. There were mixed results for American Heart Association’s goals in the final budget agreement.

Disappointments include:
  • Borrowing from future tobacco settlement payments. This is an ill-advised strategy for balancing the budget and further reduces the state’s ability to rely on those resources to tackle tobacco use in the future.

  • American Heart Association fought until the end to include an increase to the price of tobacco as a smart way to raise new revenue AND reduce health care costs. Our proposal was not adopted in the final budget solution, even though it offered an alternative to the significant borrowing and funding shifts that were used to raise revenue. We will continue to work with legislators over the interim to keep this proposal on the table for the projected future state deficits our state will face. Thank you for all your emails and calls to legislators on this issue!

Further successes were achieved:

  • Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) was partially funded! Some great news that came from the final deal was that SHIP received $15 million in one-time funding for the biennium. While greatly reduced from the $40 million originally proposed by Governor Dayton, it was a significant victory for our work to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Thanks to all of you who kept up the pressure on lawmakers to make PREVENTION an ongoing commitment in the state budget. Thank lawmakers today!

  • Some other funding victories included in the Health and Human Services bill: NO CUTS to Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative and NO CUTS to the Tobacco Free Community Grants program.

  • Preserved healthcare coverage for low income Minnesotans through several creative approaches including shifting 125,000 poor, childless adults from two state programs onto Medicaid, which preserves the Governor’s early opt in for Medicaid. The legislation also establishes a new experimental program called the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Plan which gives vouchers to move about 7,200 lower-income adults from the state-subsidized MinnesotaCare program onto private health insurance.

Please thank legislators for supporting SHIP in the final budget deal!

You can find our 2011 final legislative wrap-up at this link.

Thank you for your advocacy all year round to help save lives!

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