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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Franson (R)

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Legislative Update (4-10-15)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

The Legislature is back at the Capitol this week after a brief break over the Easter/Passover holidays. I hope that you were able to spend some quality time with friends and family this past weekend.

Finding Savings in our Health and Human Services Budget

In an effort to rein in Minnesota’s rapidly growing Health and Human Services budget House File 1665 has been introduced which would repeal the current MinnesotaCare program and transition enrollees onto MNSure, allowing them to purchase silver-level plans.

HF 1665, authored by Rep. Matt Dean, would move the 95,000 people currently participating in MinnesotaCare coverage to MNsure, where they would buy a private plan. Estimates say the shift would save about $900 million over two years.

When MinnesotaCare was created more than two decades ago, lawmakers aimed to make sure people who made too much money to tap Medicaid, but didn't make enough to buy their own insurance, had access to health care coverage.

Even with the arrival of Obamacare and implementation of MNSure, Minnesota was allowed to set up a Basic Health Plan (BHP) which would serve the same population as those currently enrolled in MinnesotaCare. Given this, MinnesotaCare was able to remain after the implementation of Obamacare, being sold to the federal government as a BHP. Minnesota is currently the only state with a BHP. While MinnesotaCare has done a good job offering healthcare access to those who qualify, the program faces some serious problems in the coming years.

The Provider Tax, which funds MinnesotaCare, sunsets in 2019, leaving the program unsustainable starting in 2020. Last year, thanks to a provision in the federal Obamacare law, Democrats expanded Medicaid (MA), moving many MinnesotaCare enrollees onto MA. The DFL’s decision to opt for a MA expansion, along with federal reimbursements being lower than expected, bankrupted the Health Care Access Fund and MinnesotaCare, leaving the program unsustainable.

Even Governor Dayton acknowledged a shortfall in the Health Care Access Fund, proposing to increase the premiums and cost sharing paid by MinnesotaCare enrollees in his initial budget recommendations earlier this session.

Rep. Dean’s plan would not only save the state at least $450 million per year, it would also prevent significant General Fund deficits in the future. Furthermore, it would allow consumers more choice on the exchange, helping them find coverage that fits their family’s needs. Finally, his plan would lower premium costs by putting more young and healthy individuals in the health exchange which would drive down premium costs and make health care more affordable.

This proposal is still in its beginning stages and it remains to be seen if this proposal will end up moving through the legislature. However, we need to take a serious look at how we can save costs in the state’s rapidly growing health and human services budget. Our HHS spending is projected to overtake education spending in the coming years. Given this, we need to be honest and bold in our approach to finding ways to lower spending and increase sustainability for the state’s health care programs.

Governor Dayton Delivers State of the State Address

On Thursday, Governor Dayton delivered his fifth State of the State address. While the Governor’s speech did not contain any new or unexpected proposals, I was disappointed with his continued insistence on spending hundreds of millions of new dollars on early childhood programs and the glaring omission of any increased support for disabled or nursing home care providers.

Chief among the Governor’s early childhood program proposals is “free” pre-kindergarten programs for every 4-year old in Minnesota. The Governor’s proposal continues government’s encroachment into family and privately owned child care and pre-school programs.

This massive increase in state-run pre-K programs will make it more difficult for family owned and private programs to compete and keep costs down. Parents will be left with fewer choices and less competition which will result in lower quality childcare and pre-school options.

Ultimately, it is about choice, and the Governor’s proposal will continue to shrink the number of family, faith based, and privately owned childcare services in Minnesota.

I was also disappointed to see the Governor fail to offer any support for Minnesota’s long term care and nursing home facilities.

Our seniors and the disabled remain a top priority for myself and my colleagues in the Majority. Both of these groups deserve the best care and I am committed to seeing that our nursing homes and long-term care facilities have the proper resources needed to care for the elderly and the disabled.

2015 Legislative Survey

Your input on issues being debated at the Capitol this session is extremely important. Please take my 2015 Legislative Survey by clicking the link below. Your feedback is appreciated!

I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me! Hearing from the people of 8B helps to ensure I'm representing the priorities of our community.

Also, please be sure to share the survey with friends and family.

Staying in Touch

As always, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.




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