DFL Senators laud bi-partisan HHS bill, restored Emergency Medical Assistance for non-citizens

Yesterday, Gov. Mark Dayton and a bi-partisan group of legislators celebrated the passage of a Health and Human Services (HHS) package which restores $4.7 million in funding for emergency, life-saving services for the sickest Minnesotans, regardless of their citizenship status.

The bill, which passed the Minnesota Senate unanimously, reverses cuts made last year that left low-income legal and undocumented immigrants without a way to access medical care under the Emergency Medical Assistance program, even in a life or death health crisis. The legislation signed by Gov. Dayton ensures that Emergency Medical Assistance will be available to these individuals for dialysis and chemotherapy treatments.

“It’s rare for a major health care bill to pass with unanimous, bi-partisan support,” said Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis. “But in this case both Democrats and Republicans agreed that the state must at least provide a basic medical safety net available to everyone in Minnesota, even non-citizens.”

The cost of restoring Emergency Medical Assistance both for documented immigrants on the path to citizenship and for undocumented immigrants is covered, in part, by $11 million returned to the state from HMOs under new profit capping requirements.

“Every person needs to be treated with dignity and compassion. Economic class and legal status should not be a condition to save a human life,” said Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis. “I believe providing life-saving, emergency health care must be a top funding priority. What kind of society would allow a woman to die because she cannot afford dialysis? That’s not Minnesota.”

Added Sen. Hayden, “I’m glad that this important bill did not get bogged down by the debate over immigration. This is about restoring a basic human right in Minnesota, no matter who you are.”

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Senator Patricia Torres Ray
Patricia Torres Ray represents District 63, which includes portions of southeastern Minneapolis and eastern Richfield in Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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