Pawlenty and staff wangle federal concession that saves health funds

Gov. Tim Pawlenty was busy with more than just network interviews on the state of the Republican Party this week: He and his administration also wangled a concession from the feds on a health insurance matter that will keep 18,000 low-income residents eligible for MinnesotaCare health insurance.

A federal change in August looked like it would mean a $135 million loss in MinnesotaCare funding over three years, but negotiations with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, along with help from the state congressional delegation, secured the waiver.

Fine print from the Gov’s announcement:

“With the waiver, which runs through June 30, 2011, health insurance for parents with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of poverty will be funded with federal Medicaid funds rather than with federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds. In exchange, the state will access SCHIP funding for some MinnesotaCare children under age 19.

“MinnesotaCare is a publicly subsidized program for Minnesotans who do not have access to affordable health care coverage. Approximately 118,000 people were enrolled in the program during state fiscal year 2007.

“Under other terms of the agreement, the state secured approval for federal matching funds for five years worth of nursing home pay increases that are already in place and will receive a higher amount of funding for graduate medical education than CMS originally proposed.”

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