ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Straight from Minnesota to Washington D.C., Governor Mark Dayton has fired off a strongly-worded letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
This comes after Gov. Dayton learned it could cost the state much more than initially expected in federal dollars for low-income health care. Gov. Dayton spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since sending that letter.
We got a pretty good idea of how the Governor was feeling after reading that letter, but on Wednesday we got to hear it straight from his mouth.
During the legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers devoted $300 million to ease a spike in health care premiums, spending an additional $542 million to set up a reinsurance pool for the next two years. That helped insurance companies cover bigger claims for people who make too much to qualify for state programs, and it worked.
Premiums this year were dramatically lower. Now the federal government says Minnesota will get penalized for this. The Trump administration plans to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s MinnCare program for the working poor.
State officials say it would be catastrophic.
“We asked for this waiver from the federal government so that we could take the funding that people would’ve gotten in tax credits without reinsurance and re-direct that funding on the individual market to a reinsurance program. So that was money the federal government was going to pay already in higher tax credits because of higher premiums on the individual market,” Emily Piper with the Minnesota Department of Human Services said. “Essentially what they’re saying is you can only do what you want to do and re-purpose the money we were already going to pay for your reinsurance program if you cut funding for the program that serves almost 100,000 of Minnesota’s working poor.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like this. I can’t even get the secretary of health and human services on the telephone. I can’t even get a phone number to call him to raise the issue,” Dayton said.
There are only two states that have this basic health plan: New York and Minnesota.
These funding cuts would not impact Minnesotans until at least 2019. Nearly 100,000 people use the health care service, according to the Governor’s Office.