Health Care issues of concern for PAHCS

This article submitted by Stephanie Everson on 04/08/97.

John Kingrey, from the Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership (MHHP), met with administrator William LaCroix and assistant administrator Bev Mueller last Thursday to discuss health care issues of concern to the Paynesville Area Health Care System. The Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership represent 141 hospitals and 23 health care systems, and work with hospitals in government and public relations, help health care providers identify community needs, and provide data and information.

The MinnesotaCare program, passed in 1992, provides health insurance for the working poor through a two percent tax on health care providers, which currently provides $22-24 million a year to fund the program.

Currently, nearly 94,000 individuals who were previously uninsured are covered under MNCare, many of whom pay premiums. As of February of 1997, 2039 people are enrolled in MNCare in Stearns County, 700 in Meeker, and 1402 in Kandiyohi.

Due in part to MNCare coverage, there has been a 3.6 percent decrease (2400 families) in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). What appears to be a fairly small decrease has actually amounted to $21.6 million in savings per year for Minnesota taxpayers.

The health care access fund, which is the fund created through the two percent provider tax, is under the threat in the 1997 legislature of being tapped to fund other nonMNCare programs. MHHP believes it is vital this fund not be tapped because around 60,000 welfare recipients will be forced to find work in the next few years, and those individuals will be switching to MNCare for health coverage.

Welfare reform
In the area of welfare reform, the state has, in the past few years, began to cut their Medical Assistance and Medicaid costs through the Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP). The state has begun to pay individual health plan carriers to provide services for a set amount.

Unfortunately, with these medical assistance programs paid by the state, hospitals are only paid around 30 cents out of every dollar, which then forces them to raise the costs of health care services for individuals covered by non-state funded insurance plans.

Rural health care
Rural hospitals continue to face many challenges to continue their health care services.

Over the past 15 years, 20 rural hospitals have closed, forcing patients to travel long distances to receive health care. MHHP has created a rural health legislative proposal to address these issues.

For more information about the MHHP or their legislative proposals, call 1-800-462-5393.

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