Posts by Pat Benner

Minnesota Needs the Provider Tax Renewed

A financial crisis threatens the Health Care Access Fund (HCAF), one of the primary revenue sources for Medical Assistance in Minnesota. Recent federal decisions led to cuts in MinnesotaCare funding, and subsequent lawsuits brought the financial status of MinnesotaCare into the public eye. But Minnesota has a larger problem ahead, as the primary revenue generator…

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Minnesota Insurance Enrollment Broke State Record

More Minnesotans can claim health insurance than ever before. Unlike many of its neighbors, the state has leaned into the Affordable Care Act, and reaped rewards—only 4% of Minnesotans lack insurance for 2018. MNSure recently announced that the 2017 open enrollment period broke its previous record for insurance coverage—a victory in the face of a…

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Ill-Conceived Trump EO Would Force Thousands of Minnesotans to Spend Thousands on Contraception

The President recently signed an illogical and unpopular executive order (EO) that would jeopardize access to affordable contraception for thousands of Minnesotans. Back in October President Trump rolled back the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate that required employers to offer insurance products with no-cost contraception included. This EO would allow employers or insurance companies with…

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Minnesota’s Community Health Centers Face a Funding Crisis

Map of FQHC sites in Minnesota

The most vulnerable Minnesotans faced a new challenge October 1st. When the previous budget expired, Congress failed to provide stable funding for community health centers (CHCs) that serve these populations. Though Congress passed a 90-day extension of funding as a temporary salve for this problem, it failed to address the massive threat to the financial…

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Why Transparency Matters: Minnesotans’ Health Care Costs Vary Extensively

Health care prices in Minnesota vary widely and lack transparency, and that opacity contributes to an inefficient and inequitable statewide market. Minnesotans often pay significantly more for the same procedure depending on where they live, without a simple way to evaluate procedure prices. Stronger efforts at transparency—in both the actual costs borne by patients, and…

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Medical Billing: A Primer

In preparation for an upcoming article, we’re returning to the Safety Net Series to discuss the incredibly odd world of medical billing. This article will take a quick look at how prices are set, along with how the users of medical care interact with this system. The most important thing to understand how medical billing…

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Alexander-Murray: Examining What This Bipartisan Bill Would Accomplish

So far in 2017, the vast majority of health care policy proposals, bills, and amendments have not had much input from progressives at the state or national level. Bills that generally have the goal of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act have followed a general blueprint of proposing legislation, holding as few hearings as…

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The Freedom to Breathe Act Revisited

Freedom to Breathe Act

10 years ago this month, the state of Minnesota banned smoking in restaurants, bars, and just about all other indoor public spaces and workplaces. The Freedom to Breathe Act prohibited smoking by employers, employees, patrons, and visitors of any workplace or indoor public space that had two or more people working there. While this law…

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