Updated: 01/24/2014 7:21 AM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls
Seven top lawmakers in the Minnesota House and Senate rifled off a letter to a member of President Obama's Cabinet recently. Lawmakers asked U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sabelius to adjust federal guidelines to pump additional money into Minnesota Care (MinnCare).
All of the lawmakers who signed the letter are in leadership, ranking Minority members, or chair health care committees. MinnCare faces a projected budget deficit of $1.4 billion by 2021 if more federal money doesn't come Minnesota's way.
The deficit starts in 2016, projected that year at $237 million, according to the Minnesota Office of Management and Budget.
State Representative Tina Liebling, (DFL) Rochester, tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS "MinnCare is a very successful program that provides low-income working families access to affordable health care."
Rep. Liebling says to "not fund it properly because federal guidelines have changed would be wrong because it serves so many people and was the first-of-its-kind in health care legislation across the country."
Rep. Liebling says MinnCare will continue to grow and will probably serve more than 160,000 people in Minnesota in just a few years. She also says the Obama Administration has not yet responded to the letter but that they do expect a response within the next couple months.
If the federal government does not increase its funding to help keep MinnCare solvent, "there are other options we have to make sure we fund it."
Rep. Liebling did not specify what those options were, and when asked if one of the options included raising taxes, she said, "It is way too early to talk about that and it is not being discussed right now."