Medical Assistance Expansion Bill Passes House and Senate
[MMA News Now, Feb. 14, 2013] On the fast track to becoming law, the House and Senate passed legislation that expands Medical Assistance for those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line as permitted by the Affordable Care Act.
The legislature moved quickly on this bill because the governor would like the added federal funding it will generate to be included in the March budget forecast. The bill now awaits his signature.
The expansion and associated changes is expected to save the state more than $1 billion over the next two biennia. As part of the ACA, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for new enrollees for the first two years, then phase down to 90 percent after that. Currently, Minnesota and the federal government share costs for Medicaid 50/50.
The expansion would provide coverage to 87,000 Minnesotans, according the Department of Human Services. MinnesotaCare already covers 53,000 of those people; 34,000 are currently uninsured.
While the MMA supports increased access to care, it is concerned about the program’s ability to adequately pay physicians.
“The long-term sustainability of the Medical Assistance program requires the state to adequately pay for physician services provided to Medical Assistance enrollees,” MMA CEO Robert Meiches, M.D., told a House committee in January.
“Minnesota physicians have had their fee-for-service (FFS) rates frozen for 13 years,” he continued, pointing out that Medical Assistance FFS payment rates for physicians in Minnesota currently rank 47th out of 50.