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Kelliher Questioned by EmmerTruth & Poligraph - They're WRONG

Category: Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Posted: 07/01/10 21:05

by Dave Mindeman

OK, I'm going to try to stop some spinning and sift through some number crunching and get to the chase about something.

Margaret Kelliher has been questioned on her assertion that an early opt into Medicaid via the new Federal Health Plan will get us a 7-1 dollar return to help Minnesota health care.

Two entities have questioned that....

1. EmmerTruth

Of course, the obvious one. So let's hear the argument:

According to Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), the state will save $430 million in the general fund over the next three years by not early-enrolling in Medicaid.

The folks using this talking point appear to get their numbers from simply dividing $189 million (new money from the state) into the $1.4 billion expected from the federal government in matching funds. This is extremely misleading because they fail to mention the state also has to pay $1.2 billion in order to get the federal match.

At best, early enrollment could bring $1 in federal funds for every $1 the state spends to provide health care for the people enrolled in Medicaid. But since MMB projects significant growth in these programs due to the generous new benefits, it will actually cost the state a lot more ? almost half a billion dollars more over three years.

First of all, if you have no intention of paying for something extra is it really a savings? Since Emmer is not going to opt into the Federal program how can he claim to be saving the state that money? If he opts in, he gets Federal dollars. If he doesn't opt in he gets nothing and spends nothing... well, there's the rub.

The whole idea for the early enrollment is to do two things. #1) We FIX GAMC. Yes, I mean really fix it. Emmer would let this bogus current program continue. The one that has everyone in GAMC required to get services at the 4 hospitals that have signed up. Four! For the entire state! Those people are not really covered -- they are dumped. Yes, Emmer, will save money by continuing that program the way it has been set up by this "compromise plan" with Pawlenty....but does it solve the problem. Hell no. #2) The early enrollment folds other programs for the poor into one health care system. It brings in others who are not insured now. And expands coverage for all. Isn't this our goal?

Now, granted, we will continue to pay $1.2 billion in state funds to match the services. Money we have already budgeted to back the current methods of coverage. It is not NEW spending. But with the additional $189 million, we get the new $1.4 billion to really fix and cover Minnesota health care.

So, yes, Kelliher is correct -- we get a 7-1 return. But there is a second entity examining that claim.

2. Poligraph with MPR.

Alright. They pick up a few more of the pertinent facts but the final analysis comes up with a wishy-washy, "Inconclusive". Their evidence as they call it?

Kelliher wants to shift people who get health insurance from two state programs--General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) and MinnesotaCare--into Medical Assistance (MA).

The state and federal governments split the cost of MA. The other two programs don't get any federal funding.

The new federal health care law expands Medicaid coverage to low-income people who don't have insurance now--the same kind of people the state now pays to cover under GAMC and MinnesotaCare - and requires the federal government to match state spending.

For Minnesota, this means shifting patients from GAMC and MinnesotaCare into MA, effectively dissolving most of the two programs that would otherwise cost the state about $1.2 billion over the next three years.

The shift also translates into $1.4 billion in federal dollars. Because the state will have to match federal Medicaid money it will still have to spend the $1.2 billion, plus another $188 million.

The reason the cost goes from $1.2 billion to a combined state and federal total of $2.8 billion is because MA would cover many more people than the two state programs do now and provide enhanced benefits. Under the new federal law all states will have to expand Medicaid in 2014.

OK. GAMC and MinnesotaCare are rolled into Medical Assistance. Everybody under one umbrella. We are covering them now. We are spending money on them now. The difference would be that we would get matching Federal funds. We could cover more people and in the case of GAMC get full and complete coverage.

And here is something else to consider. Has it occurred to anyone that if we roll these programs under one umbrella that we might be able to save some administrative costs? I'm not sure if we will still have to meet income and asset standards the same way, but if they all end up with standards for MA, wouldn't it save on staff and paperwork?

So, if we are going to pay anyway, and if we can attain a goal of covering more people, and if we can fix a program that is already in trouble, and put a process in place that we will be doing anyway in 2014......Why the heck not?

The only things inconclusive here are the reasons for NOT doing it.
comments (1) permalink
07/02/10 09:55
This article exposes what will take place if Tom Emmer is elected Governor. Bickering and fussing.
That's Emmer's style. He's mean-spirited and argumentative. When I asked him about this his defense is that he's a lawyer. And an insurance company lawyer at that.
I don't want another lawyer for Governor. Do you?
Vote Davis! on August 10th.
Leslie Davis for Governor 2010



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