The refusal by the Governor to participate in the early enrollment option for Medical Assistance (MA) will cost the State and especially rural Minnesota. The federal funding he is rejecting is money Minnesota families have already paid in taxes to the federal government, amounting to $1.8 billion over three years.
Why would the Governor do this, you might ask? In his recent letter explaining his actions he offered the following concerns: the funding is tentative, it would create inequitable access to health care and the state cannot afford to participate.
In regard to this funding being tentative, the fact is we have already and will continue to pay taxes to the federal government, and until we stop paying why would anyone with Minnesota’s interests in mind stop us from drawing down our fair share? Right now we lose 30 cents of every dollar we send to Washington. States like Mississippi take back over $2.00 while we get 70 cents. They are happy to take our money laughing all the way to the bank.
This disparity in distribution also occurs within our state. Rural hospitals, like ISJ Mayo, receive substantially less money than most metro hospitals for an average hospital stay. So, the failure to participate in early MA enrollment is even more punitive to our area. ISJ reports a minimum of a $2 million loss for care they will be required to provide without adequate reimbursement.
In regard to inequity in access, this is disingenuous. There is no equity now in the delivery of health care services and the refusal to accept our federal tax dollars will further exaggerate this for rural Minnesota.
And finally, the claim we cannot afford early enrollment for three years to cover persons below 133% of poverty is preposterous. The Legislature paid for the state’s share of early enrollment in our budget proposal. The Governor instead approved spending for a poorly constructed GAMC program that no rural hospital can make work without sinking their ship. The Governor wants hospitals, small businesses and the self-insured to pay more for care to cover uncompensated costs that could be paid for by drawing back our already paid federal tax dollars. In addition, early enrollment saves the state from borrowing $200 million from the health care access fund to cover costs in the General Fund.
The Governor objects to receiving $7.45 for every $1.00 of state money sent to the federal government. This is foolish when Minnesota already ranks 46th of 50 states in the amount of federal tax dollars we get back.
This action has no merit for anyone who claims to have Minnesota’s best interest in mind.
By State Senator Kathy Sheran