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Commissioner Jesson highlights success of Medicaid enrollment efforts

Organization focused on Somali immigrant community enrolls more than 1,000 people

March 26, 2014

Martiga Lohn

PDF version of news release

MINNEAPOLIS – This morning, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson recognized the success of Medical Assistance enrollment efforts across Minnesota by visiting an organization that has been helping Somali immigrants sign up for health coverage. Minnesota’s expansion of Medical Assistance, our state’s Medicaid program, has resulted in more than 75,000 people enrolling since October. By the middle of next year, the Medicaid expansion is projected to provide coverage to more than 130,000 people who otherwise wouldn’t have enrolled.

Navigators at Somali Health Solutions have enrolled more than 1,000 people in MNsure, most of them in Medical Assistance. Their outreach efforts, including events at mosques and community centers and messages on Somali TV, radio and web publications, have reached an estimated 16,000 people. The Minneapolis-based organization has been helping Somali communities across the Twin Cities apply and enroll in health insurance in partnership with the East African Health Project and with support from an outreach grant from MNsure.

Medicaid enrollment through MNsure to date has already exceeded the Department of Human Services’ projections, and MNsure and DHS are expecting to top the overall enrollment target for public programs, which also includes MinnesotaCare.

The latest Minnesota Health Access Survey from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that people of color are more likely than whites to be uninsured, even when they qualify for public programs.

“It’s so important that groups like Somali Health Solutions are able to reach out to people across their communities and help them get enrolled,” Jesson said. “People who are poor and working poor need health insurance the most, so it’s a real positive that they are finally getting coverage through MNsure.”

Jesson’s visit came as MNsure made a final push to urge Minnesotans to take advantage of free navigator assistance by the March 31 deadline to enroll in health coverage. To date, more than 140,000 Minnesotans have enrolled in quality, affordable coverage through MNsure.

Although enrollment in MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance is available year-round, those who need health insurance are encouraged to find out what programs they qualify for and apply before March 31. Enrollment for private plans (Qualified Health Plans) closes on that date, and consumers who do not enroll in coverage by March 31 may also have to pay a tax penalty.

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