Minnesota HMOs Get Billions of Tax Dollars; Financial Books Now Private Data

Updated: 05/27/2014 7:56 AM
Created: 05/22/2014 4:04 PM
By: Jay Kolls

A new law passed by the Minnesota Legislature allows the five HMOs that run Medicaid and MNsure to keep their books closed to public scrutiny. 

Medica, U-Care, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners and PreferredOne are no longer subject to the Minnesota Data Practices Act. This means they would not be compelled, under the law, to open their financial books to the public.

One state lawmaker, who voted against the provision in the bill, says he will work next session toward undoing what he calls "bad policy for Minnesota taxpayers."

"The HMOs get $8 billion every year from taxpayers, and to not allow the public to see their financial books is just outrageous," State Rep. John Lesch, DFL-Minneapolis, said.

He went on to say, "These organizations, and the state, are currently under a federal investigation about how we spend money on public health programs and now we turn around and give the HMOs immunity from the Data Practices Act. It just isn't good public policy."

Lesch said he saw more lobbying for this bill from the health care industry than he ever saw from those who supported the Vikings stadium legislation.

"You couldn't swing an I-V drip bag in the Capitol dome without hitting a lobbyist from the health care industry," Lesch said.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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