Reader's View: MinnesotaCare buy-in wouldn't bankrupt hospitals

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In late November, a commentary by Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith about the MinnesotaCare Buy-In proposal was published in the News Tribune (Lieutenant Governor's View: "Minnesotans deserve cheaper, better health insurance," Nov. 26).

Critics of the buy-in claim it would bankrupt Minnesota hospitals and clinics.

Apparently those critics do not understand how MinnesotaCare works.

A health care provider tax was established in Minnesota in 1992 to ensure adequate reserves in the Health Care Access Fund. This fund supports MinnesotaCare along with individual premiums based on ability to pay. It has not bankrupted our hospitals and clinics in its decades of existence. It offers reimbursement for services at Medicare levels rather than Medicaid levels, a significant benefit to providers.

Also, by providing insurance to otherwise-uncovered individuals, it has reduced the amount of uncompensated care that is estimated to cause losses of $900 per uninsured person per year to Minnesota hospitals. By allowing additional Minnesotans to buy into the MinnesotaCare program the number of uninsured or underinsured would decline further in the state and benefit will accrue to health care providers. Funding would be through premiums, at no additional cost to taxpayers.

An additional long-term benefit to keeping the number of uninsured to a minimum is that persons whose health is maintained are far more able to remain gainfully employed and to be taxpayers themselves.

As a retired physician who was subject to the provider tax for 24 years, I and many other health care providers support the proposed expansion of MinnesotaCare. Our state should continue to be a national leader in high value health care.

Dr. David Sproat

Duluth