Health systems' cost-savings plan takes beating

  • Article by: WARREN WOLFE
  • Star Tribune staff writer
  • January 31, 2011 - 9:47 PM

CEOs of the state's big health systems and insurance plans knew they were stepping toward a political buzz saw last week when they released their own plan to rein in state spending on health care.

On Monday, they got nicked -- an example of the fights sure to ensue at the Legislature as legislators grapple with a projected $6.2 budget deficit and ways to reduce it.

Groups representing disabled Minnesotans say the plan, which suggested raising some taxes and cutting some services to save $1.8 billion, is full of factual errors -- including some proposed service restrictions that already exist in state law or rules.

"There are 100,000 Minnesotans eligible for disability services under Medicaid, and it seems that this group wants to balance the budget ... by pushing us back into the bad old days of state institutions," said Steve Larson, public policy director for Arc of Minnesota. Larson is also co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, which lists 44 members including Lutheran Social Service and Courage Center.

Among the errors, said Anne Henry of the Minnesota Disability Law Center, was a proposal to place restrictions on the use of personal care assistance and other services -- where Minnesota already has rigorous rules and limits.

The disability group did say it supports the report's proposal for a Medicaid Institute to consider what services the state should provide to poor, elderly and disabled people.

The seven firms that issued the report last week did not respond directly to Monday's criticism. They are Allina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Fairview, HealthPartners, Medica, Park Nicollet and UCare.

A spokeswoman for the group said in a written statement: "We continue to support the public process that addresses the issue of health care and the budget shortfall. If better data can be found, it by all means should be considered."

Warren Wolfe • 612-673-7253

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