Getting insurance is just the start

Good news from MNsure: in the first seven months of its operation, Minnesota’s uninsured rate has dropped by 40 percent. That represents over 180,500 more people with health insurance. The majority of these enrollees have signed up for expanded public insurance programs, but many others have purchased private coverage. (Many people who previously had coverage have also switched to more affordable MNsure options.) Minnesota’s uninsured rate is currently just 4.9 percent, which is our state’s lowest rate ever and the second-lowest in the nation. Continue Reading

When a pay raise costs too much

Minnesota’s anti-poverty programs are intended to incentivize work for those who are able, meaning that earning more money is usually a more lucrative deal than earning less money and remaining on public assistance. However, sometimes the numbers get a little wonky, creating “cliffs” where people lose a lot of assistance for earning just a little bit more money. Continue Reading

More housing, not shelters

Today [May 1], Minneapolis’ two winter shelters will close for the season. This has become an annual ritual for the past few years, ever since two churches opened temporary winter shelters to offer supplemental beds for the rising homeless population. These two shelters house over 100 people a night, who will now find themselves out in the still-chilly spring without other options. Continue Reading

Three cheers for online voter registration

The Legislature and Governor made a smart move this week to preserve Minnesota’s new online voter registration system. The Secretary of State’s office had originally rolled out the system last fall, but a judge recently ruled that it didn’t have the authority to do so without legislative approval. Thanks to quick bipartisan action, that approval has been granted and online registration will continue without interruption. Continue Reading

What about welfare fraud?

Many of us cheered the recent arrest of a wealthy Minnesota couple accused of fraudulently receiving over $167,000 in medical and SNAP benefits while living the high life. A question many people are probably asking is, “How did they do it?” It’s tough to say for sure, but based on news accounts, their alleged scheme sounds very elaborate. Continue Reading

MNsure’s bright spots

As MNsure nears the end of its first open enrollment period, one thing’s for sure: it’s been an interesting ride. Little has come easily over the past six months. Continue Reading

Education can improve “Welfare to Work”

Minnesota’s economy demands an increasingly educated workforce. By 2018, it’s estimated that 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require some post-secondary education. In fact, Minnesota companies require a better-educated workforce than in any other state, and they report trouble with finding qualified applicants. Continue Reading

Minnesota schools deny lunches, too

A school in Utah recently earned headlines and outrage when staff seized and threw away the lunch trays of students whose meal accounts were empty. Students were sent away embarrassed and hungry. Now it’s our turn to be embarrassed, because many Minnesota schools do the very same thing. Continue Reading