For more than 20 years, MinnesotaCare has provided coverage to working Minnesotans who would not otherwise have access to affordable, meaningful health care, and inspired health care reform efforts across the nation. Earlier this month, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson hosted a roundtable discussion with MinnesotaCare advocates, enrollees and health care providers in Winona to share Gov. Mark Dayton’s vision to continue and improve the historic program.
As of February, approximately 126,000 Minnesotans were receiving MinnesotaCare. Dayton’s proposed budget makes it possible for more people earning 133 to 200 percent of the federal poverty level – roughly $15,000 to $23,000 for a single adult – to get on and stay on MinnesotaCare. By 2016, it is estimated that MinnesotaCare will provide coverage to an additional 160,000 residents.
In addition to serving more people, the governor’s proposal is good for the state budget. By 2016, federal funds are expected to cover nearly 95 percent of the cost. This increased federal participation will contribute to an estimated $750 million balance in the state’s Health Care Access Fund by 2017. Minnesota’s Health Care Access Fund was established in 1992 to pay for health care for low-income, working Minnesotans.
“Minnesota has always been an innovator and leader in health care,” Jesson said. “We believe now it is time for us to take the next step to improve and enhance Minnesota’s health care system with a next-generation of MinnesotaCare that provides better health for enrollees and better value for taxpayers.”
Close to 50 people from Winona and surrounding areas came together to discuss the importance of MinnesotaCare to their community members at the event held March 25. Many said care made possible by MinnesotaCare is especially important for vulnerable populations such as those with mental illness, those who are self-employed including farmers, and those who work full-time jobs but don’t have health care benefits.
“The lack of access to affordable health care is a serious barrier,” said roundtable participant Megan Buckingham, policy program organizer for the Land Stewardship Project. “The health care proposals in the governor’s budget are really encouraging. Our MinnesotaCare program exemplifies our leadership in health care policy nationally. We need to keep and improve MinnesotaCare as the foundation of a health care system that works for everyone.”
More information about human services budget proposals can be found on the DHS website.