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Saint Paul, Minnesota – State health care leaders responded today to Governor Pawlenty’s effort to limit Minnesota’s involvement in the new federal health law at the expense of Minnesota jobs. It is the latest in several attempts in recent weeks by Governor Pawlenty to reject resources that DFL lawmakers say will preserve and create jobs and help stabilize the state budget.
“The Governor’s obstruction on health care is hurting care providers, patients and most importantly, costing Minnesotans jobs when we can least afford it," said State Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL – Duluth).
Just last week Children’s Hospital announced its plan to lay off 200 to 250 workers. State Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL – St. Paul) said hospitals and care providers throughout the state are experiencing similar stress on their bottom line and that workers and families are paying the price.
“There are still over 200,000 Minnesotans out of work and the response from Governor Pawlenty and the Republican Party can be summed up in three words – just say no,” said Murphy. “We have a clear choice – move forward and confront serious issues facing Minnesota families, or move backward with the same failed policies of the past.”
Pawlenty’s plan to limit the new health law in Minnesota could affect over 100 funding opportunities to improve health care in Minnesota. Several key components that affect Minnesotans have already been implemented or will be implemented in September. Americans with pre-existing medical conditions will have access to affordable health care, seniors on Medicare will receive a $250 rebate to fill the “donut hole” and small businesses can take advantage of tax credits up to 35 percent of premiums to cover their employees.
“The federal health law returns immediate dividends to Minnesota families, seniors, and small businesses wrestling with the cost of health care,” said State Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL – Minneapolis). “Unfortunately, the Governor and the Minnesota Republican Party continue to aggressively work to dismantle real progress for struggling Minnesota families.”
The latest news from Governor Pawlenty continues his trend of rejecting or delaying federal tax dollars that Minnesotans send to Washington D.C. To date, Pawlenty has rejected or delayed over $1.7 billion in federal dollars.
Pawlenty has yet to direct the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services to apply to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a $1 million grant to assist in the planning and establishment of the American Health Benefit Exchange. Under state law passed this session, he has until September 1, 2010 to do so. Lawmakers sent a letter to Health Commissioners Ludeman, Magnun and Wilson today to ask what steps the Administration has taken to comply with state law.
“We want to know what is holding up the Administration from complying with state law,” said Huntley.
“Agree with it or not, the Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land,” said Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL – Minneapolis). “This new federal money available to Minnesota is no different than the federal money we receive for transportation, education or any other federal return on our state tax dollars. This is politics over good policy at its worst, and Minnesotans should be outraged.”
In coming weeks, Huntley and Berglin plan to hold hearings to examine the legality and impact on the Governor’s unilateral directives to limit the federal health law.
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