Affordable Care Act adds expense to counties, federal funds may help
The federal government plans to kick in a few extra bucks to help cover the increased costs absorbed by Minnesota counties as a result of the Affordable Care Act that quickly passed in both the House and Senate earlier this year.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) received word from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that counties may be eligible for a larger match to cover increased costs associated with medical assistance enrollments. Certain costs will be entitled to a 75 percent match, which previously qualified for 50 percent.
The Affordable Care Act was designed to extend medical care to more Americans. By doing so, it has changed criteria that allows more people to be eligible for county medical assistance.
The DHS estimated a result of approximately $13 million to $14 million federal dollars annually for Minnesota's counties. The match will be available beginning October 2013.
Although county-by-county projections are not available, Douglas County Social Services Director Mike Woods hypothesized that Douglas County could see an additional $100,000 in federal funds.
Woods has already started preparing his office for the increased caseload. Two workers have been hired to replace financial workers eligible to retire in July. A plan is in place to hire two additional workers if the demand created by the Affordable Care Act is great enough.
Woods said the latest reports show an additional 1,000 people will be eligible for county medical assistance. Although he has seen reports predicting 1,500, he doesn't believe it will be that many.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.