St. Paul, Minn. (April 7, 2011) – Tuesday’s agreement between Governor Dayton and Minnesota’s health plans, placing a one-time, 1 percent cap on HMO profit earnings, hasn’t moved attention away from the real prize: the $2.5 billion in financial reserves Minnesota HMOs are currently sitting on.
Over the noon-hour today, Minnesotans organized by TakeAction Minnesota showed up at the St. Paul offices of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans asking when the HMOs would return over $500 million in excess money to protect against severe cuts to health care. The state’s four biggest HMOs (Medica, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners and UCare) currently hold $518 million in excess reserves, money above and beyond even a generous level of needed reserves.
Standing in front of a crowd holding signs saying “Cap The Reserves!” and “The Money’s There, Spend It On Care!” Denny Schneider, a health care leader from Woodbury, tried to deliver a past due notice to the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, asking when they would return this money to the state. Despite the lights being on, nobody at the Council of Health Plans would answer the door and talk to the crowd.
Schneider said, “one year of HMO profits are just the tip of the iceberg. The real money is sitting in HMO reserves. Minnesota needs this money back now given a budget situation that would chop thousands off health care.”
The St. Paul action was coordinated in tandem with two other satellite actions carried out at the Duluth offices of Medica and Blue Cross Blue Shield today, by the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition.