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House, Senate introduce bills to keep MinnesotaCare

Posted by: under Health care, Minnesota legislature Updated: January 31, 2013 - 2:58 PM

House and Senate lawmakers want to move to the next stage of federal health care reforms without scrapping innovative state programs like MinnesotaCare.

The 20-year-old program, which provides affordable health coverage to lower-income Minnesotans, does not meet all the criteria of the current federal health care reforms. Rather than scrap the program and start again, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have petitioned the Obama administration for a waiver to allow the state to keep MinnesotaCare under the Affordable Care Act.

The state has been petitioning Washington for months for more details about how the next stage of the health care reforms -- the creation of Basic Health Plans -- would work. Under the Affordable Care Act, states are required to set these plans up to ensure that the working poor have access to quality, affordable health care. Minnesota argued that it already has a program that does just that. The state is still waiting for a federal response.

"MinnesotaCare is a successful bipartisan program that has provided affordable coverage to lower income working families for two decades and is a centerpiece of our state's health care system," Liz Doyle, associate director of TakeAction Minnesota, said in a statement Thursday. "Unfortunately, this legislation faces a significant obstacle -- the lack of federal [Health and Human Service] guidance... This federal inaction is inexcusable. Thousands of Minnesotans are waiting in limbo in the face an uncertain future to their health coverage in 2014."

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