LSP: Farmers & Rural Residents Upset by Threats to MinnesotaCare’s Future

Legislature Steals $1 Billion of Funding Dedicated for MinnesotaCare & Medical Assistance

The Minnesota Legislature appears to be close to finalizing a budget for the next two years that cuts Health and Human Services funding by more than $100 million and guts almost the entire $1 billion Health Care Access Fund reserve. These cuts will have significant negative impacts on farmers and other rural residents in the state, say member-leaders of the Land Stewardship Project (LSP).

“This budget represents a sad new moral low for Minnesota—human life should be valued more than a tax cut for those with the most resources,” said Paul Sobocinski, a Wabasso, Minn., farmer and LSP organizer. “Down the road, this budget threatens MinnesotaCare, which is extremely important in rural Minnesota. Healthcare is a big concern for farmers, and MinnesotaCare provides support when crop prices have been low, as well as for beginning farmers and young families.”

The Health Care Access Fund (HCAF) was set up 25 years ago as a dedicated fund that pays for MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance to ensure access to healthcare for all Minnesotans. The main source of funding for the HCAF is a modest 2 percent tax on healthcare providers (such as hospitals). However, this provider tax is scheduled to end after 2019, threatening the future of MinnesotaCare. This session, the Republican-led Legislature refused Governor Mark Dayton’s proposal to reinstate the provider tax to protect the viability of the HCAF and MinnesotaCare. The current budget being considered raids money from the HCAF to pay for other parts of the budget, and would leave just $4 million in the HCAF by 2021.

“As a doctor, I know how important it is for people to get the medical care they need,” said Aleta Borrud, a physician and LSP member from Rochester, Minn. “Let’s be clear: these cuts will harm many of our neighbors who will find it harder to access healthcare, either due to cost or closed doors. The Legislature should not be raiding the fund that helps people get healthcare.”

Sobocinski said in many ways the proposed cuts to healthcare in Minnesota mirror the national assault on providing average people quality, affordable coverage.

“In short, Minnesota Legislative leaders are running their own version of Trump Care by robbing this source of dedicated funding that provides healthcare coverage for one in five Minnesotans,” he said. “Vulnerable Minnesota residents who are low-income should be the primary concern of the legislators who represent us.”