Health workers can get federal grants to work in underserved areas

Health care workers can get $60,000 in federal money in exchange for working two years in communities with limited access to health care.
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Health care workers can get $60,000 in federal money in exchange for working two years in communities with limited access to health care.

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The state on Wednesday announced it's receiving more money to continue work on a health insurance exchange, which is meant to help consumers compare and buy health insurance plans.

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Republican Senator and Finance Committee Chairman David Hann accuses the Democratic governor of going around a state law that would allow him to halt the spending of millions of dollars in federal grants for the state's health-care programs. Hann says he wants more information about how the state would spent the money. Forum Communications reports Dayton's budget office marked the funds "urgent," which means the money wouldn't require legislators' approval.

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One task force will design Minnesota's version of a health insurance exchange, which is required under the new federal health care law. The other will look more broadly at ways to cut costs and improve quality in the state's health care system.

Showdown looming over Minnesota health insurance exchange

Gov. Dayton may not be able to create an exchange without legislators on board, and Republicans aren't likely to support a state-run insurance marketplace. The problem is the federal health care overall requires that states show they can run their own exchanges, and if they can't, the federal government will step in to do it for them.

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Two law professors at the University of Minnesota say a loophole in the federal health reform plan could leave the public caring for the sickest people and put the proposed online exchanges at financial risk. They tell MPR the law might make it possible for self-insured employers to create plans that aren't attractive to people with serious health needs, leaving them to seek coverage from a public insurance exchange.