Using health-care access money to balance the budget: illegal?

According to Finance & Commerce, Gov. Pawlenty’s plan to use Health Care Access Fund monies to fill the budget deficit may conflict with current state law. The paper notes that in 2003, DFL State Sen. Linda Berglin sucessfully sponsored legislation prohibiting such transfers for “non-health purposes.”

A Pawlenty spokesperson says the proposed $250 million transfer is OK because it forestalls health care budget cuts, though DFLers might argue that’s not a strict constructionist reading of the law.

Of course, the law can always be changed, but the legislature doesn’t seem so inclined at the moment.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/02/2008 - 02:29 pm.

    I think our current governor’s penchant for using dedicated funds for purposes other than those intended deserves treatment via a constitutional amendment that forbids any such use.

    Pawlenty’s robbery of part of the tobacco fund to balance the budget a few years ago meant that anti-smoking TV ads were discontinued (although other anti-smoking efforts were maintained). A survey six months later found that the number of teens describing themelves as “likely to try smoking” had risen by 11 percent. How many eventual cases of lung cancer or emphysema might this budget shift lead to?

    Health care access funds come from health care providers and low-wage workers’ monthly premiums. Pawlenty’s use of huge amounts of these funds for part of the experimental “transformation” of health care on the assumption that future UNPROVEN savings will make up the difference is taking a big chance. His use of health care access funds in a previous year would have led to (I believe) 29,000 Minnesotans losing their health insurance had the legislature not succeeded in stopping it.

    The no-tax ideology is called “taxpayer protection,” an oxymoron if I have ever heard one.

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