A happy Valentine’s Day for health care reform

More than 87,000 Minnesotans will have access to affordable and meaningful health insurance beginning in 2014, including 34,000 who currently have no insurance. That’s thanks to legislation to expand eligibility for Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance in Minnesota. House File 9 has passed both bodies of the Legislature and Governor Dayton is expected to sign the bill into law.

The legislation has three key provisions:

  • Covering adults without minor children with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($15,856 for an individual or $21,404 for a couple).
  • Covering parents and young adults (19- and 20-year-olds) with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • Removing asset limitations for nearly all individuals eligible for Medicaid.

Minnesota policymakers have shown strong leadership by acting early in the 2013 Legislative Session to pass legislation taking advantage of the opportunity to cover more Minnesotans with meaningful health care insurance. That’s good news for the 87,000 Minnesotans who will have improved access to health care, but also saves the state $129 million in the FY 2014-15 biennium, because the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost for all of those who are newly eligible for Medicaid.

This is also good news for health care providers – more people with health insurance means there will be fewer unpaid medical bills. And more people paying their bills will help reduce costs for everyone.

But there is still more to come. Other provisions to improve access to health care through Medicaid will be coming later in the session, most likely in the Health and Human Services omnibus finance bill. These include:

  • Covering children and pregnant women with incomes up to 275 percent of the federal poverty line ($53,708 for a family of three).
  • Streamlining enrollment for Medicaid, including creating an online application process, allowing real-time eligibility determinations and eliminating six-month renewals.

We thank Governor Dayton, and bill authors Representative Huntley and Senator Sheran for making sure Minnesota takes advantage of this important opportunity.

-Christina Wessel

About Christina Wessel

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