ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Among the budgetary items up for debate in the Legislature is whether or not to discontinue Minnesota Care on the eve of implementing the Federal Affordable Care Act, which take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

At first glance, some may consider the two universal plans redundant. However, Human Services Commission Lucinda Jesson says that is not so. Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget for MinnCare removes the $10,000 annual cap on hospital stays and fills a vital gap for the working poor falling between the Federal healthcare exchange and Medicaid.

“Certainly there would be an option for the state to say, look, we don’t need to continue Minnesota Care, we’ll just let those people go on to the exchange and purchase insurance using federal subsidies. The reason the Governor thinks that’s not as good a deal is that Minnesota Care, although having sliding scale premiums, those premiums are more affordable,” says Jesson.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Chris Simon Reports

About 10,000 current single MinnCare recipients making more than $23,000 per year will be forced off MinnCare and onto the exchange due to new guidelines in the budget. Jesson said she believes those people will likely be replaced by first time low-income insured, compelled to purchase healthcare by the new federal law.

“For people who are not insured or people who are working a couple of part-time jobs and do not have insurance through either of them, the combination of continuing Minnesota Care and access to federal subsidies through the exchange, that is going to be a real good deal for those who can not afford healthcare coverage,” said Jesson.

The Minnesota Legislature convenes this week with its calendar for the next seven weeks dominated by budget issues. The DFL controlled House and Senate is expected to sign off on Gov. Dayton’s extension of Minnesota Care.


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