Minnesota is about to expand federal health care coverage to thousands of people living on the brink of poverty, and according to the bill's chief author Senator Kathy Sheran save the state billions of dollars.
This week the senate voted 45–22 to take the federal government up on its offer to cover the multimillion–dollar cost of expanding federal health care coverage to around 35,000 Minnesotans—a move Sheran calls a no–brainer.
Sheran says, "This is a bill that brings a billion dollars to the state of MN it will relieve us from that much money from the general fund obligation."
Medicaid expansion is an optional provision of the Obama administration's health care reforms. For states that opt in, the federal government has promised to pay the initial bill for the extra enrollees, then fund 90 percent of the coverage from then on.
Sheran says, "The opportunity is there for the states to draw back their own federal dollars, money we have already spent in taxes to the federal government, bringing it back into the state to underwrite the cost of healthcare for people under 138% of poverty."
Critics of the bill are concerned about partnerships with the federal government, saying that if federal funding dries up in the future, states would be left to cover the multimillion–dollar cost of the program.
Sheran says, "There is nothing in this bill or nothing at the federal level that requires us to continue to participate, so if the federal government changes it's position, the state can change what it is doing as well."
Business and health care communities have came out in support for the bill.
Sheran says, "It's hard to say no to a billion dollars relief to the general fund."
And after passing in the House earlier this week, the legislation has been sent to the governor's office and is expected to soon be signed by Gov. Dayton.
Most states with Democratic governors, and a number of republican run states, are moving toward Medicaid expansion and the millions in savings that go with it.