In Minnesota, we know that our lives and communities are interconnected. Each one of us plays a role in helping our state thrive. From the farmer who wakes up early to prepare the land, to the grocer who stocks the vegetables, to the parents who feed and care for their children – we show up every day for each other and the people we love.
But in order to show up for our communities, families, and loved ones, we need health care that we can count on.
This session, Minnesotans came together to fight for and protect their health care. The health care provider tax funds the Health Care Access Fund, which is the primary funding for Medicare and Medicaid. It has been around for over 25 years, and every state except for Alaska has some version of it. It is a safety net that is there for Minnesotans when they need it most.
In order to avoid a shutdown in 2011, Gov. Dayton made a deal to sunset the health care provider tax in 2019 — this year. But Minnesotans rose up across the state to save it. And we won.
For legislators this session, the health care provider tax has been reduced to a number — 1.8% specifically. But for the people living, working, and caring for their families in this state, this number is about our lives.
MARIAH, ST. PAUL
“I’ve been on-and-off Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare since I got out of college in 2007—so over a decade. There were times that my coverage lapsed and had to go without health insurance for a few months. That meant that I had to pay out-of-pocket for my medications. I have epilepsy. I take anticonvulsants for the seizures, and they are expensive. When I’ve had gaps in coverage, it’s been a burden to pay for appointments and medication. Sometimes my doctors would just talk to me over the phone because they wanted to make sure I got my medications. I also see a therapist and a psychiatrist—and I can’t do that without Medical Assistance.
Most of my life I’ve been unemployed or underemployed, and I’ve rarely, if ever, had a job that offered health care. I know a lot of people that when they can access their medication and treatment for chronic illness, they are able to work. These public health programs give me and people like me an option to work what we can and access health care.
I believe everyone should get access to health care, regardless of who they are. Minnesota is known as a leader in health care and that’s something we should be proud of. Cutting the health care provider tax would take us backwards. If you want to talk about how great Minnesota is, prove it. Keep it great. Rather than pulling back these programs, expand them.”
“This week, I undergo my final round of chemotherapy. It’s been over three years, and I don’t know how I would have afforded my care without Medicaid and Medicare.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was already on Medicare, but there was so much that wasn’t covered. I was barely getting by. I had to use GoFundMe just to afford my medications and treatment. I’ve always been a giver. It was difficult to ask for help (it still is). Trying to figure out how I was going to afford the treatment I needed was very stressful and anxiety-inducing. Even now, anytime I hear from the county, I automatically get anxious.
After months of jumping through hoops, I was able to qualify for Medical Assistance. Now, all the major things, MA-EPD handles, including a personal care assistant. It doesn’t cover everything, but it definitely lightened the blow financially.
This year alone, I have maybe spent 60 days in the hospital. Without Medicare and Medicaid, I would be racking up bills. I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the medical expenses. I would have had to liquidate everything just to stay alive.”
“All my life it was hard to get health care, and then I finally got access after the Medicaid expansion. Finally, I had health insurance. Then when I went just over the limit, I was put on MinnesotaCare. So, I’m a person that didn’t have health care for most of her life and now I do. It’s amazing. Without MinnesotaCare, I wouldn’t have access to a doctor at all. There’s no way.
When I look at what they send me after I visit the doctor, it’s over $1,000. I can’t pay that. When they talk about cutting our care, I feel like our legislators are saying: these people don’t deserve to visit the doctor because they’re poor. We don’t have any need or right. We’re people. Every other country that is an industrialized nation makes sure that people who need to see a doctor can see a doctor. Is that too much to ask?”
SUNSHINE, MAPLE PLAIN
“In 2014, after years of trying, I got pregnant. When we reapplied through MNSure, I (and my baby) ended up qualifying for Medical Assistance—which was huge for us. As people who live paycheck to paycheck, the cost of childbirth at the hospital is so expensive. Our daughter had jaundice when she was born, and she spent another two days in the hospital receiving treatment. If we would’ve had to pay for all of that care, we would have likely gone bankrupt. It would be devastating to us financially.
If we didn’t have access to MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance, we would be struggling each month to pay our premium. We would be paying other bills late or not at all so that we could attempt to keep our health care. If we didn’t have insurance, and we were having other health problems, we’d probably be delaying care because we couldn’t afford it—which could likely lead to worse long term health outcomes.
I want politicians to know that these are real people, real lives that they are hurting. Real lives they are impacting with their votes. Healthcare is a human right. We all deserve to be able to have access to quality, respectful, affordable health care.” (Read Sunshine’s full story)
We demand a health care system centered in healing, care, and dignity for all bodies. We won’t settle for less. Meet with a care organizer to continue building a health care system that works for all of us: email@example.com.