WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin traveled here this week to discuss health care reform with the Obama administration at a time when Minnesota hospitals are facing mounting challenges, including state budget cuts and a sputtering economy.
While McLaughlin supports the president’s goals of expanding coverage and instituting some form of a public option plan, he said that from a county perspective he is worried about the administration’s plan to gradually reduce federal funding to hospitals that care for the underinsured or uninsured.
Hennepin County Medical Center, for example, currently receives $30 million a year from the federal government for this reason.
The Obama plan seeks to reduce these payments across the board by 75 percent from 2013 to 2019, according to McLaughlin. The rationale is that everyone will be insured so the supplements will become unnecessary.
But, McLaughlin remains wary.
“We have groups that fall through the cracks,” he said after meeting Monday with Obama’s policy advisers and a handful of other representatives from the nation’s largest counties.
“They need to go slow on this.”