Earlier today, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate passed a bill that will take away affordable health care coverage from thousands of low-income Minnesotans and replace it with an unaffordable voucher program involving the purchase of high-deductible private health insurance.
The bill, which was approved along party lines, essentially dismantles MinnesotaCare, a program that began in 1992 for low-income working people who cannot afford health insurance. Under the bill, families who are at or above 133 percent of poverty ($24,645 for a family of three) would lose their MinnesotaCare coverage, and instead pay a monthly contribution to receive a voucher for a high-deductible health insurance plan from a private insurer.
A non-partisan analysis of the bill indicates that those participating in the private voucher program would pay about 40% more for health insurance under the Republican plan and, at minimum, a $3,000 deductible will be required – an amount this group of Minnesotans cannot afford to pay.
Senate Republicans also are seeking federal approval to expand this system to the Medicaid program for the poor.
“This bill is a clear attempt to balance the state’s budget on the backs of Minnesota’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens,” said Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights. “We shouldn’t ask Minnesotans to choose between health care they can’t afford, and living with no health care at all.”
During the Senate debate on the bill, Republicans rejected an amendment that would have replaced the health insurance of state lawmakers with the proposed voucher system, requiring policymakers to try out the plan for three years before subjecting Minnesota’s more vulnerable citizens to this program.
“Republicans want to gamble with the lives and well-being of Minnesota’s poorest citizens,” said Sen. Goodwin, who offered the amendment. “My amendment simply asked that before we saddle other people with such a burdensome health care system, that we walk a mile in their shoes. It’s a bit hypocritical that the architects of this so-called ‘reform’ plan voted against applying that same reform to themselves and their own families.”
For further information, contact Senator Barb Goodwin, at (651) 296-4334.