So it’s official: Minnesota will not be receiving a first-round grant from the federal government to help set up its health insurance exchange, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services announced today. Alaska is the only other state to not receive a grant — 48 states and the District of Columbia will each be receiving up to $1 million under the program.
DFLers and outside observers roundly criticized Gov. Tim Pawlenty last month when he ordered all state agencies to decline all discretionary participation in the federal health overhaul, and this appears to be the first financial impact of that decision.
But the actual impact on the state from missing out on this first-round grant money is less clear, since the grants are intended to help the states plan how they will develop and implement their individual health insurance exchanges, which make up a crucial part of the law’s health insurance infrastructure and are one of the more onerous administrative tasks for states involved in its implementation, outside of the Medicaid expansion.
There’s no direct implication for the state budget or government services (as there was during the debate over extending additional federal Medicaid dollars to states, for example). But on its face, the announcement means the state will at least have less money to tackle a key administrative requirement of the federal health overhaul.
DFL Rep. Erin Murphy, said after the news was announced that she was disappointed Pawlenty’s actions had led the state to miss out on federal funds intended to help implement the law. “The governor has slowed us down,” she said. “There are a long series of opportunities coming our way, so we’ll just keep plugging away here.”