April 20, 2015 (PDF Version)
Dear Members of the House HHS Finance Committee:
As you craft and vote on your final omnibus proposal for Health and Human Services funding, we understand that you face difficult choices, a scarcity of resources, and the competing needs of so many important programs. Therefore, the Catholic Health Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Catholic Conference urge you to consider the following principles that we believe provide the framework for just and effective healthcare policy.
As a matter of human dignity, everyone is entitled to health care. Like any basic element of life, health care is necessary for development, sustains us, and should be accessible and affordable for everyone. Unfortunately, some people in Minnesota still are without adequate health care and are often marginalized from a system that should protect and heal them.
Both organizations have consistently supported principled health care reform derived from our core values: respect for the dignity of the every human person; concern for the poor and vulnerable; justice; the common good; and stewardship of finite resources. Based on these principles, we believe that health care policy and funding should strive to make health care:
- available and accessible to everyone, especially to the poor and vulnerable (including undocumented persons);
- prevention-oriented, with the goal of enhancing the health status of communities;
- sufficiently and fairly financed;
- transparent and consensus-driven, in allocation of resources, and organized for cost-effective care and administration;
- patient-centered, and designed to address health needs at all stages of life, from conception to natural death;
- safe, effective, and designed to deliver the greatest possible quality; and
- protective of the conscience rights of patients, health care professionals, and institutions.
Both CHA Minnesota and the Minnesota Catholic Conference have been communicating individually with legislators this session about various HHS policy and appropriations proposals based on the principles outlined above.
One specific element of concern that we wanted to address together is the current proposal to repeal MinnesotaCare. MinnesotaCare has provided reliable, comprehensive, affordable public health coverage to Minnesota families for over 20 years. Its elimination, without carefully planning a replacement, could harm over 90,000 low- and middle-income Minnesotans who currently rely on it for affordable health care.
MinnesotaCare is an essential source of health coverage for working families across the state, particularly in greater Minnesota. Individuals are eligible for MinnesotaCare if they earn between $15,500 and $23,300 per year for a single individual—for example full-time workers earning $8 to $12 an hour. A family of four is currently eligible for MinnesotaCare if it has an annual household income of up to $47,700.
The proposed repeal of MinnesotaCare could undermine the economic well-being of thousands of Minnesota families across the state who may have to spend a greater portion of their already limited income on health care costs. Such an approach makes little sense as the state faces a projected $1.9 billion budget surplus, and the Health Care Access Fund alone has a surplus of $13 million.
We recognize that human services programs can always be reformed and improved, and that a replacement for MinnesotaCare has been proposed that would put current recipients on the State health care exchange. But we urge you to consider the potentially harmful unintended consequences of this plan, and ask that you ensure that any reforms of MinnesotaCare do not make quality health care unaffordable and out of the reach of thousands of Minnesotans who are being served well by MinnesotaCare.
We appreciate your consideration and are grateful for your work on behalf of all Minnesotans.
Minnesota Catholic Conference
Catholic Health Association of Minnesota (CHA-MN)