Major milestone for health care reform in Minnesota

More than 87,000 Minnesotans would gain access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance under a proposal on the move in the Legislature.

The bill (Senate File 5 and House File 9) expands eligibility for Medicaid for 87,000 adult Minnesotans with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($15,415 for individuals, $20,879 for couples).

As I’ve testified before several committee hearings, there are many reasons to support the bill:

  • It will save the state money. The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible Medicaid participants for the first three years. Expanding Medicaid to cover more parents, young adults and adults without children will bring nearly $1.2 billion in federal dollars over the next four years into our state to pay for health insurance for Minnesotans.
  • It will mean fewer unpaid health care bills. People need health care, whether they have insurance or not. Many doctors and hospitals treat patients who do not have insurance, knowing they are unlikely to get paid for their services. The cost for these unpaid bills gets shifted elsewhere, with health care providers making up for some of the losses by increasing the costs for those who do have insurance. Increasing the number of people with insurance by expanding Medicaid will reduce the amount of uncompensated care. Having more patients able to pay for health care services will help control costs for everyone.
  • It will improve health outcomes. The Department of Human Services estimates that this expansion will help 34,000 currently uninsured Minnesotans access affordable and comprehensive coverage and will help an additional 53,000 individuals access better coverage than they currently have. This will translate into better health outcomes, stronger and more stable families, and a more productive workforce.

The bill could go to the House floor soon and has just one more committee stop before reaching the floor in the Senate. We urge legislators to support House File 9 and Senate File 5 to give thousands of Minnesotans the security of knowing better health insurance is on the way in 2014.

For more information, check out my testimony and an issue brief we recently updated.

-Christina Wessel

About Christina Wessel

Christina served as the Minnesota Budget Project's deputy director until January 2014.
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