Minnesota Vetoes Health Care Expansion Bill
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty(R) on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would have expanded access topublicly-sponsored health coverage, saying the bill would not reduce healthcare costs or improve quality, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Duchschere, MinneapolisStar Tribune, 5/13).
On Monday, the House voted 83-50 to approve the measure, and the Senate voted52-13 to approve the bill. The bill would have expanded eligibilityrequirements for MinnesotaCare, the state's insurance program forlow-income residents, and would have established an outreach program to enrollthose who qualify for the program. About 39,000 additional residents would havebeen eligible for coverage (Salisbury/Stassen-Berger, St.Paul Pioneer Press, 5/13). Providers also would have received financial incentives toprovide residents "medical homes" (Wolfe, Minneapolis StarTribune, 5/12).
The bill for the first time would have defined health coverage affordability as10% of income for couples with incomes of $56,000 annually and 5% for coupleswith incomes of $28,000 annually. In addition, the bill would have funded a $47million public health effort to encourage state residents to cut back onsmoking and alcohol consumption, and to lose weight (St. Paul PioneerPress, 5/13).
Pawlenty in his veto message wrote, "The state cannot afford to furtherexpand subsidized health programs without certainty of reform that will controlcost." However, Pawlenty said he supports some provisions of the bill,including the promotion of electronic health records, development of medicalhomes and changing the payment system for physicians. He wrote, "I hope wecan move forward on these areas of common agreement" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/13).
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