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Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Minnesota Hospital Association President and CEO Lawrence Massa met with members of the Rochester medical community today to discuss strategies to improve health care infrastructure in central Minnesota and across the state.
The panel event, “Investing in Minnesota’s Health Care Future,” elicited a wide range of ideas on how to prepare for a growing number of Minnesotans with health care insurance. Proposals in Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget to cover 145,000 additional Minnesotans through Medical Assistance, along with policy tools in the federal Affordable Care Act, will cut the uninsured rate by nearly half over the next few years.
“These are significant steps forward for the state, but we also must ensure Minnesotans with health insurance have access to the world-class health care this state is known for,” said Jesson. “The governor’s budget makes investments that support primary care physicians, clinics, hospitals and other essential infrastructure to keep our health care system strong.”
Held at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Jesson highlighted the Southeast Minnesota Beacon Program, a federally-funded $12.3 million project using technology to coordinate and improve care in the region. Led by Mayo, partners include Olmstead Medical, Winona Health, Allina Health, long-term care facilities, school districts and public health departments in 11 southeast Minnesota counties.
“We were pleased to discuss the results of the Southeast Minnesota Beacon Program, a regional collaboration focused on promoting public health through the use of innovative technology, and consistent with the Governor’s objectives of improving the health of all Minnesotans,” said Dr. Douglas Wood, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and a member of the Minnesota Health Care Reform Task Force.
The governor’s proposed budget for next biennium focuses on investments in Minnesota’s health care infrastructure to improve health, such as $12.8 million to support Medical Education and Research Costs. These dollars, matched by the federal government for a total of $25.6 million, will benefit clinical training in Minnesota’s teaching hospitals, which are critical to maintaining a strong health care workforce, particularly in Greater Minnesota. The governor’s budget also proposes investing $27.2 million over the 2014-2015 biennium to increase hospital, physician and dental reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients. In difficult budget years, these rates have failed to keep up with rising costs.
Panelists also spoke about a commitment in the region to better integrate care across disciplines, such as mental and physical health, and said greater flexibility within regulatory and payment systems would enhance their work.
“The Minnesota Hospital Association is appreciative that Gov. Dayton’s budget includes increased investments in our state’s health care programs to improve Minnesotans’ access to services and ensure sustainability of health and human services programs,” said Massa. “We are pleased that the governor has already signed into law the expansion of Medicaid to cover more low-income Minnesotans. In addition, the governor’s budget restores MERC funding to fiscal year 2011 levels and it will leverage federal matching funds and will help hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies maintain their training programs for our state’s future physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, pharmacists and dentists.”
In addition to Jesson, Wood and Massa, the panel included Dr. Kurt Angstman, associate professor of family medicine at Mayo Clinic and chair of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors; Heather Geerts, clinical director at Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center; and Rachelle Schultz, president and CEO of Winona Health.
More information about human services budget proposals can be found on the DHS website.