Minn. Coalition Seeks to Prevent Loss of Health Insurance; Gov.’s Budget Proposal in Question

April 13, 2005

Minnesotans for Affordable Health Care, a coalition of health care organizations, has joined forces to reportedly prevent at least 27,000 Minnesotans from losing health insurance if Gov. Pawlenty’s current budget proposal is enacted. Representatives of the group presented
their argument at a press conference Wednesday morning at Hennepin County Medical Center.

The governor’s 2005 budget proposal reportedly aims to make cuts to adult coverage in MinnesotaCare, a state-supported insurance program for Minnesotans who are unable to obtain health coverage through their employer. Currently 100 percent of the program’s 138,996 participants pay premiums based on their incomes.

“The cuts to MinnesotaCare will erode Minnesota’s fine tradition of self
reliance by forcing thousands of hardworking Minnesotans to either go without medical coverage, seek care in emergency rooms, or quit their jobs to qualify for public assistance,” said Donald Jacobs, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Hennepin Faculty Associates – Physicians of Hennepin County Medical Center. “Canceling insurance for at least 27,000 not only increases the number of uninsured, but also increases the likelihood that everyone’s health care costs will rise.”

Minnesota has ranked as the healthiest state in the nation for 14 of the last 15 years in a national report sponsored by the United Health Foundation.

However, in 2003, approximately 38,000 low-income residents lost health care coverage under MinnesotaCare reportedly due to legislative changes, and in 2005 an estimated 27,000 more are expected to fall through the cracks if the current budget proposal is enacted.

“The people whose coverage will be canceled are people we all know -. the barber down the street, the waitress working two jobs, the small employer who can’t afford group insurance, the nursing home assistant who cares for your mother, and the farmer who has no health insurance alternative,” said Brian Rusche, executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition. “These cuts fly in the face of Minnesotan values of neighbors helping neighbors. We urge legislators not to raid the MinnesotaCare fund.”

Minnesotans for Affordable Health Care has joined together in support of preserving the safety net that provides health care for the thousands of Minnesotans who do not have access to employer-sponsored health care coverage.

Its members include the Minnesota Hospital Association; Minnesota Nurses Association; Joint Religious Legislative Coalition; Mental Health Association; Minnesota Medical Association; Service Employees International Union; and the Legal Services Advocacy Project.

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