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Medicaid expansion program to start March 1 in Minnesota

St. Paul, MN -- Governor Mark Dayton announced today that eligible Minnesotans will begin receiving improved Medicaid benefits March 1, under an expansion of the state's Medical Assistance (MA) program.

Governor Dayton said, "I want to credit and thank new DHS Commissioner Cindy Jesson for spearheading this rapid acceleration of the effective date for Minnesota's early Medicaid Opt-In by 7 full months. As a result, 95,000 Minnesotans will get better quality health care; and hospitals, clinics, doctors, and other health care providers throughout our state willreceive fairer payments from the federal government for their services. That will enable them to provide better quality health care to all Minnesotans."

Governor Dayton and Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson were joined by Queen of Peace CEO and Minnesota Hospital Association Chair Mary Klimp to unveil plans for an accelerated timeline to implement the MA expansion, a state option under federal health care reform. The expansion will replace General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), which was reduced in 2010 and provides services through only four Twin Cities metropolitan area hospitals. Approximately 32,000 people are expected to shift from GAMC to MA.

In addition to bringing thousands onto the rolls of the insured, early Medicaid enrollment will bring in approximately $1.1 billion in federal resources in the next biennium for our current investment in health care for this population. The move reduces the projected shortfall in the Health Care Access Fund.

The expansion will also provide MA benefits for an estimated 51,000 adults currently enrolled in MinnesotaCare and approximately 12, 000people not enrolled in a state health care program. All are adults without children with incomes at or below 75 percent of the federal poverty guideline, $677 a month or $8,124 a year for one person.

Starting March 1, GAMC enrollees will automatically be enrolled and will receive MA benefits. New applicants who are eligible for MA can enroll starting March 1. MinnesotaCare enrollees will transition to MA over a period of six months but will be eligible for MA benefits beginning March 1; coverage will be retroactive. Current GAMC and MinnesotaCare enrollees will receive information from the Department of Human Services (DHS) about the expansion and any actions they need to take. Information will also be available on the department's website.

"Since Governor Dayton signed the Medicaid expansion executive order two weeks ago, this transition has been our number one priority" Commissioner Jesson said. "The expedited implementation schedule will require all of us - state and county workers, health care providers and community partners - to work quickly and coordinate our efforts so this transition goes as smoothly as possible."

Implementation will include outreach to people who are eligible but not enrolled in state programs, Jesson said.

The state cost of MA early expansion is equivalent to the current cost of providing coverage to GAMC and MinnesotaCare enrollees who will shift to MA. This means Minnesota is providing health coverage to more people andproviding them with more benefits with no additional state investment.