Phillips, Minnesota Delegation Urge Full Funding for Minnesota's Health Care System

March 17, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) and Representatives Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Angie Craig (D-MN), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Pete Stauber (R-MN) urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to revisit the agency’s decision to partially deny the state’s request for a waiver regarding MinnesotaCare, the state’s Basic Health Program (BHP). In 2016, Minnesota was one of the first states to apply for a Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver to establish a reinsurance program to ensure more Minnesotans have access to affordable, quality health care. However, the waiver request was only partially approved.

The letter notes that CMS’s decision to partially approve the waiver application in 2017 has caused the state to receive significantly less annual federal funding than expected for the state’s BHP, leading the state to lose over $49 million in federal funding between 2018 and 2020 according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The letter also stresses Minnesota’s standing as a national leader in health care and medical innovation as one of only two states with an established BHP. MinnesotaCare served approximately 75,000 Minnesotans in 2019 and “is a vital source of health coverage for people who may not otherwise have access to health insurance,” the legislators wrote in the letter.

The legislators continued: “We know that access to quality health care is more important than ever in light of the coronavirus pandemic—which has infected hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and disrupted access to employer-based health coverage. On behalf of our constituents, we urge you to consider the state of Minnesota’s request to reassess the decision made in 2017 regarding partial denial of its waiver application as soon as possible.”

READ full text of the letter to CMS below:

Dear Acting Administrator Richter,

We write to respectfully request your consideration of Minnesota’s recent request to review the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) September 2017 decision to partially deny the state’s Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver regarding MinnesotaCare, the state’s Basic Health Program (BHP).

Minnesota has long been a national leader in healthcare and medical innovation and is one of only two states that has established a BHP. MinnesotaCare served 75,000 Minnesotans on average during 2019 and is a vital source of health coverage for people who may not otherwise have access to health insurance.

However, as the February 5 letter from Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead and Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold indicates, CMS’ decision to only partially approve the state’s 1332 waiver in 2017 has resulted in Minnesota receiving significantly less annual federal pass-through funding than was previously expected. Between 2018 through 2020, the partial denial of the waiver has cost the state of Minnesota over $49 million in federal funding.

We know that access to quality health care is more important than ever in light of the coronavirus pandemic—which has infected hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and disrupted access to employer-based health coverage. On behalf of our constituents, we urge you to consider the state of Minnesota’s request to reassess the decision made in 2017 regarding partial denial of its waiver application as soon as possible.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this critically important matter.

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