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Medicaid enrollment concerns

Published (1/7/2011)
By Patty Ostberg
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The House Health and Human Services Finance and Reform committees met jointly Jan. 5 for a general overview of state health care programs, such as MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance.

Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), chairman of the finance committee, said legislators have a “tremendous task” this session of reforming costly state programs. With potentially large budget cuts looming, Abeler asked people managing nonprofits and others to come forward with ideas.

A considerable point of discussion was Gov. Mark Dayton’s signing of an executive order earlier in the day that enrolls the state in an expanded Medicaid program to help certain adults without children. The program is currently funded with state and federal money.

Supporters claim it will provide more care to low-income Minnesotans, but opponents are concerned about future costs to the state.

“What if the federal dollars do not come to cover the cost of this program, and then who’s on the hook for those expenditures?” asked Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake).

Department of Human Services Chief Financial Officer Charles Johnson said, “We as a state would have to reassess in what form we could provide coverage to this population.” He added that he’s never experienced a situation where “the federal government pulled out on a dime,” and it has always given warning.

Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) said Medicaid is a 45-year partnership that has been paying the states for years. “I don’t think we’re taking a big gamble.”

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