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Nonprofits Continue Push for Healthier Minnesota

Nonprofit groups are pushing to renew access to the MinnesotaCare public insurance program. (iStockphoto)
Nonprofit groups are pushing to renew access to the MinnesotaCare public insurance program. (iStockphoto)
February 4, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – With lawmakers set to consider the future of Minnesota's public health care programs, a nonprofit group is backing several proposals to expand access for low-income residents.

Late last month, Gov. Mark Dayton's Health Care Finance Task Force laid out dozens of recommendations on where the state should go.

Ben Horowitz, a policy advocate for the Minnesota Budget Project, is urging lawmakers to pay particular attention to several ideas.

These include restoring eligibility for MinnesotaCare for people who make less than $33,000 a year.

"That was actually the case for most adults until Jan. 1, 2014,” he points out. “And it makes a lot of sense, because families in that income range still struggle to make ends meet."

Some health care industry critics, however, argue that expanding public coverage could shift some costs onto the private insurance market.

The renewed push for expanding MinnesotaCare comes as some House Republicans are calling for a review of the program due to possible over-payments to some people who didn't qualify.

But Democrats say the results of new checks on MinnesotaCare, which were approved last year, are not in yet.

Meanwhile, Horowitz argues that the state should keep in mind its most vulnerable citizens.

"We want to be a place where everybody can afford to deal with these bad results from the lottery of life,” he stresses. “If you wind up sick or injured, Minnesota should be a place where you don't need to be concerned that your family's finances are going to be left in a state of ruin."

More than 33,000 new people were enrolled in the MinnesotaCare program during the latest enrollment period.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN