ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The state Department of Human Services started notifying hundreds of thousands of clients on Tuesday that they might lose access to health care assistance and other services if Minnesota government shuts down on July 1.
Notices mailed out to 572,000 health care, cash and food support clients informed them that “you may have trouble getting health care services” in the event of a shutdown. Similar notices were sent to 42,500 child care assistance recipients and providers, as well as 7,000 recipients of adoption assistance.
The notices were the latest step as state government prepares for the possibility it won’t be funded when the new two-year budget cycle begins July 1. That’s the result of continued disagreement between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders over the level of state spending in that two-year budget, with Republicans drawing a line at $34 billion and Dayton demanding another $1.8 billion from tax increases in order to avoid steep cuts.
Dayton and Republican leaders had not met for budget talks for nearly a week as of Tuesday.
With a court likely to order the continuation of some state funding to preserve health and safety in the event of a shutdown, it’s possible some health-care assistance programs could go on past July 1. But the notice from DHS paints a bleak picture of the potential effect on some recipients of public assistance.
“If a provider won’t see you and you need urgent care, go to an emergency room,” the letter said. It also encourages enrollees in the various assistance programs to monitor the news as July 1 approaches for details about the situation.
Last week, the state notified more than 40,000 employees that they’re subject to be laid off on July 1.
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