The MMA strongly opposes using the Health Care Access Fund as a slush fund to pay for projects unrelated to health care or to balance the state’s budget.
In 2007, the MMA initiated legislation that would establish a committee to oversee appropriations from the Health Care Access Fund (HCAF) and develop criteria for uses of the fund that would be consistent with its original purpose — to fund health care for low-income Minnesotans. The committee would review all legislative proposals for new uses of the Health Care Access Fund, and advise the legislature whether or not the proposal met the criteria developed for acceptable uses.
The bill did not pass, but is expected to be back in 2008.
The Health Care Access Fund was originally created by the Legislature in 1992 to be dedicated funding source for expanding insurance coverage. It is the primary source of funding for the MinnesotaCare program, which helps low-income workers buy medical insurance.
The HCAF has four primary sources of revenue a 2 percent tax on physicians, hospitals and other health care providers, a 1 percent gross premium tax, premiums from enrollees, and federal matching dollars. During the last several years hundreds of millions of dollars were taken from the HCAF and used to reduce the state General Fund deficit.
The MMA continues to oppose the sick tax, but believes that if the tax is to remain, the revenue raised through the provider tax must be used as it was intended and not raided to balance the state budget.