St. Paul, Minnesota -- The Minnesota Health and Human Services Finance Committee has been holding hearings on "Doing More with Less". The public, individuals and organizations, have been asked to share their ideas, and according the committee chair, the ideas have been pouring in. The last hearing to provide such testimony may be tomorrow, Thursday, February 6.

Twila Brase, president of the Citizens' Council on Health Care, provided the committee with 18 suggestions for cutting costs. In testimony yesterday, her suggestions included requesting a waiver from the IRS to decrease employee dependence on employer coverage, cutting large 2003 budget increases for the Minnesota Department of Health, combining Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare to cut duplicative services, and converting HMOs into for-profit (tax-paying) corporations-- and using the HMO tax rather than the provider tax to pay for the MinnesotaCare subsidy program.

"Doing more with less requires changes in specific statutes, careful inspection of state agency budgets and new legislative proposals that shrink the size of government while expanding less expensive private sector alternatives. To address the State's enormous deficit, we offered creative, broad and targeted ideas for the committee to consider now and in the near future," said Brase.

Brase informed the committee that the 18 suggestions are not a coordinated strategy, but rather an array of ideas to pick from. Included in the list of suggestions are the following:

  • Convert non-profit (tax-exempt) HMOs into for-profit HMOs.


  • Repeal the provider tax and use the HMO tax to pay for the MinnesotaCare subsidy program.


  • Allow individuals to fully deduct their purchase of health insurance from state income tax.


  • To move employees out of expensive, non-portable, employer-sponsored coverage, request a waiver from the Internal Revenue Service for a pilot program that provides federal tax deductions to individuals who purchase their own health insurance.


  • Create a new tax deduction for individuals and corporations that contribute donations to institutions and organizations providing charitable health care services to individuals with insufficient financial resources.


  • Tighten eligibility for MinnesotaCare, require premium payments to pay for at least 20% of the cost of the program (rather than 8.8% in 2002, 5.9% in 2003). Consider requiring at least a minimal co-payment at time of service.


  • Combine Medicaid with MinnesotaCare to eliminate unnecessary costs.


  • Cut growth of government. Provide the Minnesota Department of Health with no increase or only a small increase in appropriations. The change in the total appropriations request ( $341.0M in 2002 to $460.8M in 2003 ) is a 35% increase.


  • Consider cutting the MDH budget for Health Quality and Access Program. This program activity is slated to increase by $43.8M, a 78 percent increase for 2003.


  • Reduce the regulatory and paperwork burden of practitioners and institutions. This will decrease use of health care dollars for administration, and allow for increased time spent with patients.

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935