Pawlenty Budget Reams Health Care Funding

Once again, MNCare would take the biggest hits

Say what? In fact, nearly all of the people enrolled in MnCare are workers with jobs. Their numbers are rising in part because private companies are increasingly declining to provide health care for their employees. How is providing a cost-effective safety net for employees going to "kill jobs"? Pawlenty cites small business owners as being particularly aggrieved by the Senate's income tax proposal, but, as Berglin notes, "We have many small business employees and small business owners who are enrolled in MnCare. Many of them have contacted me and said, 'If not for MnCare, I wouldn't have dared to try and start a small business on my own.'"

Indeed, Berglin's Senate health care budget would encourage more partnerships between small businesses and MnCare by offering to subsidize small business health insurance plans with the health access fund. To make a partnership attractive, Berglin would remove the $5,000 cap on insurance coverage imposed by Pawlenty two years ago. "Just this week I've had two women call me, both diagnosed with breast cancer. Under MnCare, they can only receive one round of chemotherapy when eight to ten rounds are called for," Berglin says. "We can't offer that kind of a plan to small businesses."

Sen. Linda Berglin fights to keep 47,000 Minnesotans from being deprived of health insurance
Richard Fleischman
Sen. Linda Berglin fights to keep 47,000 Minnesotans from being deprived of health insurance

But as Pawlenty's intransigence on taxes brings a government shutdown into focus, the idea of using health care-related taxes and fees to create such partnerships becomes a moot point. "I've agreed to cut my budget pretty significantly," Berglin says ruefully. "Something like the small business partnerships aren't going to be possible."

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