As promised and expected, Gov. Dayton signed an executive order to expand Medical Assistance (MA) eligibility for single adults under %75 of the poverty line. Federal law will expand eligibility even more in the future, but these changes are not scheduled to take place until 2014. In the mean time, states are being given options to begin the transition early. Under Gov. Pawlenty, Minnesota had declined these funds, but signed a compromise that would let the next Governor to take action.
Dayton’s signature on this is a major step forward. MA, unlike the weakened GAMC plan that emerged last session, is a comprehensive plan. It allows eligible individuals to seek treatment at any number of hospitals and clinics, not just a handful of locations in the Twin Cities. Unlike Minnesota Care, it offers real coverage for expensive inpatient hospitalization for those least able to afford it. While we are still waiting on information about how long the transition will take place and individuals are enrolled, we are very heartened to have good news to share. Particularly for individuals who have lost work or housing and are living with mental illnesses, Medical Assistance represents a better hope for good quality medical care.
This is going to be a difficult legislative session, as the Governor and Legislature wrestle with a 6.2 Billion deficit. Further cuts are all but inevitable. With expanded MA, more low income individuals will be able to access resources they need to keep themselves healthy and safe. For Minnesotans with mental illnesses, this is a victory.
Please stay tuned for further updates and stay in contact with your state legislators. You can find out who represents you here. They need to hear from you early and often as they consider the steps necessary to balance the State’s budget. Let them know why your services are important to you and your community.