Health Care Compact bill receives committee approval

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Minnesota has moved one step closer to joining other states in forming a compact to assert its right to reclaim federal funds to provide public health care for its own residents.

The House Health and Human Services Reform Committee approved HF2339, which would allow the state to join other states in requesting that Congress return each state’s Medicaid contributions to be managed as each sees fit. Sponsor and Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) said that the state could use block grants to redirect the funds without federal strings attached.

The committee referred the bill to the House Government Operations and Elections Committee.

“We cannot defend the status quo. The current system is not sustainable,” said Dan Tripp, national field director for the Healthcare Compact Alliance. Tripp said the current Medicaid program is on track to become insolvent by 2025.

American Indian and Veterans Affairs programs would not be included in the states’ initiative.

The bill is a “philosophical step” toward state sovereignty and does not specify who would be covered or what benefits would be included, Tripp said.

Rep. Sandra Peterson (DFL-New Hope) said allowing some states to opt out of the federal health care program may serve to “hasten Medicaid’s demise.”

Other states that have joined the compact include Georgia, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas.

Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) sponsors SF1933, a companion bill that awaits action by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.