The Health Care Access Fund (HCAF) collects money through health care provider taxes and premiums from MinnesotaCare enrollees. Created in 1992, the HCAF was intended to provide low-cost health care for working Minnesotans, so use of these funds for other purposes is controversial. However, the HCAF is a popular place to look for additional resources whenever the state faces a budget deficit.
This year is no exception. The Governor’s supplemental budget draws $250 million outright from the HCAF and transfers it to the general fund to help fill our $935 million budget hole for this biennium. That part is obvious.
However, the Governor’s budget draws an additional $48 million in this biennium (and another $101 million in the FY 2010-11 biennium) from the HCAF by doing some “refinancing.” Around the State Capitol, “refinancing” means you change which fund pays for a particular program. In this case, we are talking about transitional health insurance for adults without children (for you health care geeks – this is Transitional MinnesotaCare for those moving from GAMC to MinnesotaCare). This program has been funded from the general fund since it was implemented during the 2005 Legislative Session – and the Governor proposes paying for it from the HCAF instead.
Many will object to this change since the Governor reduces resources available in the HCAF by $149 million over the next three years (and more on into the future) without making any improvements in access to health care for working families.
So, between the $250 million transfer and the $149 million refinance – the HCAF is contributing $399 million over the next three years to help solve our budget deficit. Want to see for yourself? Then take a look at the information from the Department of Finance.