Editorial: Careful cutting health care

Published 9:42 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

It’s the job of elected leaders to ensure taxpayer money is spent wisely and spending restraint remains a virtue in any arena, but we must be very careful when it comes to cutting health and human service budgets.

That’s because this kind of spending usually has a domino effect. Cutting someone off their health care or requiring them to pay a large increase in their share may seem to be the fair thing to do on the surface where other taxpayers paying their own way are concerned.

But we also risk making those same taxpayers pay more. A loss of health care usually means a loss of preventive care. That usually means people without health care will wait until they are extremely sick before seeing a doctor. By then they often have to get expensive emergency room treatment. We should also remember that any hospital or clinic that takes Medicare patients or that gets other health care funding from the government is required by law to treat people in emergency rooms even if they do not have the money to pay.

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The Minnesota House GOP has proposed paying for a $2 billion tax cut with a proposed $1.1 billion cut in Minnesota’s health and human services budget. They GOP caucus hasn’t specified where the cuts in health care would come, and they note that health care spending would still increase over current levels.

But the GOP plan would not fund the existing projected costs for those already on the system or projected to be on the system. The conclusion is that some people would be cut off.

Minnesota has made great strides on insuring low income people who are often shown to have significant health care needs. We’ve expanded medical assistance with funding from the federal government. We’ve sold a lot of insurance policies through MNsure. We’ve also put in place programs where providers are asked to be more efficient.

We have to be very careful to make sure we don’t make cuts that cost us more in the long run.


— Mankato Free Press, April 7

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