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Lawmakers to tackle Medicaid eligibility, liens

ST. PAUL -- MNsure isn't the only health care topic up for debate this legislative session. Other issues likely to command attention include Minnesota's public health programs, Medicaid and MinnesotaCare.

ST. PAUL -- MNsure isn’t the only health care topic up for debate this legislative session. Other issues likely to command attention include Minnesota’s public health programs, Medicaid and MinnesotaCare.

A recent audit found those programs did a poor job making sure everyone enrolled in those programs was actually eligible to do so - and predicted the cost to taxpayers of this oversight exceeded $100 million per year.

DFLers say the audit may have overestimated the problem but add that the state should do more to ensure everyone receiving taxpayer-supported health care is eligible for the programs. Republicans, who called for a crackdown on waste and fraud in Medicaid last year, are expected to redouble their efforts.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also plan on targeting Minnesota’s practice of putting liens on the estates of Medicaid enrollees older than 55 to recover the cost of their care. Minnesota has done this for a long time for people receiving Medicaid for long-term care, but Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act means healthy, active middle-aged Minnesotans have started to get hit by liens, too.

Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, has promised to try to change the law so the Department of Human Services doesn’t go after the estates of people receiving Medicaid for normal medical care. He also wants to make the change retroactive, so people who’ve already racked up thousands of dollars in claims against their estates - sometimes without realizing it - can get off the hook.

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Lourey’s Republican counterpart, Rep. Matt Dean, of Dellwood, said he’s open to such a change.

Here are some other health and human services issues that could come up this year:

  • Drug costs: Politicians and insurers alike want to try to target high prescription drug costs but aren’t sure what can be done on the state level to tackle a national problem. One idea: require more price transparency from drug companies.
  • Provider tax: Minnesota’s 2 percent tax on medical services is scheduled to expire in 2019, and some groups want to make it permanent. With Republicans opposed, don’t expect anything to happen this year.
  • Mental health: Lawmakers expanded support for mental health treatments last year, but lawmakers in both parties want to go further.

RELATED STORY:  Expect a lot of talk but little action on MNsure in upcoming session  

Related Topics: HEALTH
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