Minn. Medical Groups Resist As Pawlenty Shuts Out Obama Health Plan

Minnesota medical groups have asked federal officials to review their comments and those of state officials about the health overhaul’s implementation directly after Gov. Tim Pawlenty refused to send the suggestions on behalf of the state, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The groups include associations representing the state’s health plans, hospitals and doctors. In their letter to Washington, they wrote, “We believed the State of Minnesota would submit comments on behalf of all residents and stakeholders in Minnesota. … Because the enclosed letter was not sent, we respectfully request that you review and consider the comments contained in this document even if you cannot accord it the deference of an official, timely, state-sponsored letter” (May Yee, 10/7).

The Pioneer Press adds, “At the least, it’s a sign of growing frustration within Minnesota’s medical community with Gov. Tim Pawlenty. At most, it’s an open declaration of war.” This dispute comes after a Pawlenty-signed executive order forbid agencies from requesting grants without approval, and includes a document drafted by state officials that was also never sent to Washington. That document includes their recommendations for the health overhaul’s exchange program, and was obtained by the medical groups through a public records request (Hoppin, 10/7).

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked states to weigh in on creating online marketplaces for consumers to buy insurance, known as exchanges,” Minnesota Public Radio reports. An official representing the health plans said, “We were all really concerned that Minnesota as a state had not gone on record officially regarding our concerns as the federal agency develops the rules to govern insurance exchanges” (Stawicki, 10/7).

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