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Today, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson visited Duluth, one of many communities in the state that will benefit from Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to expand MinnesotaCare coverage.
Jesson led a roundtable discussion with MinnesotaCare advocates, enrollees and health care providers in northeast Minnesota to share Dayton’s vision to continue and improve the historic program. 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.
“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.”
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.
During the roundtable at Essentia Health, participants spoke of the importance of filling the gap between Medicaid and employer provided coverage.
“We are so pleased to hear the dedication Gov. Dayton and Commissioner Jesson have to continuing MinnesotaCare," said Elizabeth Olson, outreach and organizing director for CHUM, a faith-based organization that provides shelter and other services for those in need in Duluth. "MinnesotaCare makes health care affordable and helps many of the people we serve achieve stability.”
As of February, approximately 126,000 Minnesotans were receiving MinnesotaCare, including 5,313 St. Louis County residents.
"I'm grateful for the affordability and the quality of care I receive while on this program. Because of it I am able to be a strong, confident mother, a successful student and I have kept my chronic diseases of depression and Crohn's in check," said Stacey Meese of Duluth, a MinnesotaCare recipient. "I am hopeful that the Legislature takes into consideration its essential importance."
In addition to Olson and Meese, roundtable participants included Jenny Peterson, executive director of Generations Health Care Initiatives; John Smylie, chief operating officer for Essentia Health; and Dr. Timothy Zager, M.D., pediatrician and president of Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic.
More information about human services budget proposals can be found on the DHS website.