Hennepin County’s McLaughlin wary on cutting federal health funds for underinsured

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.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 06/17/2009 - 04:58 pm.

    The Obama plan is unfortunately similar to the Massachusetts plan (mandated insurance purchase, penalties for not buying in, subsidies to help the poor buy policies).

    Also unfortunately, the MassPlan has achieved neither cost reductions nor universal coverage. It is running hundreds of millions of dollars per year more than expected. I’d guess we can multiply that by 50 to get the national cost increase. The insurance and other health-care industries will do just fine, however.

    If we were so prescient as to require full public funding for all federal level campaigns, we could pass health care (and other) legislation that is not written by and for the corporate campaign donors/lobbyists to assure their “access” to Congress with the kind of largesse those who lobby for ordinary people and poor people cannot match.

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