Apr 11, 2011

Some Good News in HHS Bills

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Although Education Liberty Watch primarily deals with the effects of education programs and spending and their effects on academic excellence, parents’ rights and the propagation of the American heritage of freedom, we also monitor a number of issues in the health and human services realm that affect parents’ rights and family autonomy to have parents raise, educate and care for their children without government interference.  Both the Minnesota House and Senate finished their massive health and human services policy and spending bills in recent days.  Although spending remains a major problem in both the House and Senate bills and the House bill being significantly more bureaucratic than the Senate bill, there is still some very good news that should be trumpeted and for which the Republicans should be thanked.  Contact information for the House is available here and the Senate information is available here.

1)      Health Care Freedom of Choice Act Now in Both House and Senate Bills – This provision that asserts Minnesota’s state sovereignty to not force its citizens to buy health insurance as mandated by the federal government in the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obama Care) is now in both omnibus bills. This is great news for freedom and for families struggling in this economy to not have to buy government mandated health insurance whose premiums will rise and coverage will shrink.  The legislation was introduced by Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) and Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie). The provision was in the Senate bill. The amendment to add it into the House bill was offered by Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) on the House floor.  The vote was along party lines.  The authors and all of the legislative Republicans should be thanked.

2)      Protections Regarding State Collection, Storage, and Unconsented Research on Baby DNA in Senate Bill – Thanks to the excellent work of Senator David Hann, Twila Brase and Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, and many concerned parents and citizens, protections from government acquisition, storage and use for research without consent are now in the Senate bill.  Our genetic code contained in DNA is what identifies us as individuals and is the most intimate information we have.  The last entity that should have possession and control of that information is government.

3)      Parent Aware Quality Rating System for Child Care Now GONE from Both HHS Bills – The bureaucratic, ineffective, big government quality rating system about which we have warned you extensively was in the House bill in a watered down form at the behest of Democrat early childhood proponent Rep. Nora Slawik.  House HHS Finance Chairman Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) removed the provision before the House bill went to the floor.  Senate Chairman David Hann never had the provision in the Senate version at all.  Both chairmen should be thanked.

4) Nanny State Home Visiting Defunded from Senate Bill – Dr. Effrem has been testifying both to the legislature and Congress for several years about this program that sends government workers into the homes of new and or expectant parents. (Listen to Dr. Effrem’s most recent legislative testimony here [March 8th HHS at 27:00) and see a PowerPoint presentation here).  These programs are intrusive, ineffective, and expensive; collect all sorts of private family data, violate fourth amendment rights, and indoctrinate families into a government worldview about child rearing.  Senator Hann is definitely to be thanked for defunding this program and directing the federal funds to other programs.

5) Subjective, Invasive Mental Screening that Leads to Drugging of Vulnerable Children Defunded from Senate Bill – The $6 million spent on screening vulnerable children in juvenile justice and foster care so as to label them mentally ill when they are usually reacting to terrible life situations is gone from the Senate bill.  According to data from the Department of Human Services, the increase in the percentage of children screened has correlated closely with the increase in the percentage of children receiving dangerous and ineffective antipsychotic and other psychiatric medications.  These drugs cause the life spans of people taking them to be shortened by 25 years, decreased brain volumes, diabetes, obesity, heart attacks and strokes in adults.  Most are not even approved for use in children by the FDA.  Unfortunately they are still used in children and studies show children to be more susceptible to the severe side effects of these drugs.  Minnesota spends $53 million/year on antipsychotics alone for people on Medicaid.  When other psychiatric drugs are factored in, that number jumps to $73 million per year.  At least approximately $1 million per year is spent on these drugs given to children under incorrect and dangerous clinical circumstances such as 4 or more psych drugs given to the same child.  (Listen to audio here for the February 14th HHS hearing at the start and view a PowerPoint here). Senator Hann, the HHS Committee, and the Senate Republicans are definitely to be thanked for this work.

6) Medicaid Early Opt-In Blocked in Both House and Senate Bills – One of Governor Dayton’s first acts as governor was to accept Obama care’s opt-in for states to receive increased Medicaid funding until the law goes fully into effect in 2014.  While this would provide some short-term increased Medicaid funding for Minnesota, that funding will go away in 2014 after the Minnesota Medicaid rolls had swelled well beyond the states’ ability to afford it and the state would be required to fully implement the coverage denying, death promoting, expensive, intrusive, and unconstitutional Obama care.  Chairman Abeler added this provision to the House bill before it went to the floor and Chairman Hann already had the provision in his bill.  Both Chairman and the Republicans are to be thanked for this as well.

These bills will soon be reconciled in a conference committee.  While Education Liberty Watch greatly appreciates the efforts made in the House bill, there are several reasons to be concerned and the Senate bill contains all of the good House bill aspects and several more of its own as outlined above.  Therefore, we will be supporting the Senate version in conference committee.  More to come later.  Stay tuned. Thank you for your support!

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