Proposal would expand MinnesotaCare to more working poor


One of the options under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is for states to provide basic health care coverage to people earning between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For an individual, that amounts to between $15,000 and $23,000 of income per year.

A bill approved as amended by the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee on Wednesday would modify the current MinnesotaCare program, and name it as the state’s basic health care program, beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

HF214, sponsored by House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), now moves to the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee. Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) sponsors a companion, SF184, which awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Provisions in the bill include:

  • seeking federal authority to increase the income level to 275 percent of the federal poverty guideline;
  • eliminating the $10,000 cap on hospitalizations for those enrolled, plus a four-month uninsured waiting period; and
  • increasing payments to doctors and pediatric dentists who provide basic services for people covered under MinnesotaCare.

Although people within this income category could purchase health coverage on the new Mnsure health exchange, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said the MinnesotaCare model would provide more appropriate and affordable coverage for this population than the exchange because it would likely not require as much “out-of-pocket” costs.