Pressure mounts for Pawlenty to apply for federal Medicare funds


Democratic leaders in the Minnesota Legislature urged Gov. Tim Pawlenty Tuesday to apply for $236 million in federal health care money. In a letter to the governor, Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and House Majority Leader Tony Sertich wrote that it would be “irresponsible” for the state to not seek the funds when many patients in Minnesota are struggling with the tough economy, adding, “You cannot let political ambition get in the way of doing what’s right for Minnesota.” They join the Minnesota Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic in calling for Pawlenty to secure the funds for Minnesota. 

A continuation of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages was signed into law in early August and would result in $236 million in funds for Minnesota. But, under the law, Pawlenty — and other state governors — must request the funds.

“Failure to accept the funds would result in residents paying federal taxes to pay for Medicare programs in other states,” the legislative leaders wrote to Pawlenty. “In fact, you have previously raised the concern that Minnesota is a donor state, and receives only 72 cents for each $1 sent to Washington. Also, these funds do not increase the size of the federal deficit and are entirely paid for within the legislation.”

Minnesota Medical Association president Dr. Benjamin Whitten released a statement on Friday urging Pawlenty to ask for the money.

“Gov. Pawlenty, the physicians of Minnesota strongly encourage you to request these funds. With the state facing an enormous deficit in 2011, the state desperately needs these funds to continue to care for Minnesotans and avoid further health care cuts,” he said.

The Mayo Clinic also urged Pawlenty to request the funds.