Appeals Providing Sick Immigrants Life Saving Care Says MN Governor

Poor, sick undocumented immigrants in Minnesota on dialysis and cancer treatments are being kept alive thanks to appeals being filed with the help of state employees. A provision drawn up by Republican lawmakers and slipped into the state’s special session budget bill cut off Emergency Medical Care funding to undocumented immigrants at the beginning of the year.

Hospitals and the State Department of Human Services only became aware of the change in state law in December. That set off a panic filing of appeals for the immigrants to extend the treatments. Appeal filings became complicated because many of the immigrants do not speak English.

On Tuesday Governor Mark Dayton praised his Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jessen for filing the appeals.

“Commissioner Jessen has rightfully used her discretion to allow people who are directly effected, who really are in emergency situations to make appeals and that continues their health care while that process is going on”, said Governor Dayton. “But that can’t occur indefinitely. So it is going to require a legislative action and possibly some additional funding.”

On Thursday, House Speaker Kurt Zellers defended the Republicans who wrote the anti-immigrant provision into the state’s budget, but promised the law would get reexamined. Governor Dayton says Commissioner Jessen has had some “very preliminary discussions” with the House and Senate leadership about changing the law.

Transcript of Governor Dayton’s comments on the Emergency Medical Care crisis.

Jacob Wheeler of The UpTake: Governor, any, any discussions with the GOP on the Emergency Medical Care and are you considering any executive action on the subject?

Governor Dayton: Well, Commissioner (Lucinda) Jessen is I think had some very preliminary discussions with the leadership in the House and the Senate on that particular issue. That was… it was their initiative last summer that caused this and I don’t want to put words in their mouth, but I understood Senator Senjem to say at the briefing we had last Thursday that you know there were some unintended consequences from that. You know that often unfortunately happens. So, I don’t know at this point what their intentions are.

Commissioner Jessen has rightfully used her discretion to allow people who are directly effected, who really are in emergency situations to make appeals and that continues their health care while that process is going on. But that can’t occur indefinitely. So it is going to require a legislative action and possibly some additional funding. So we have to have those conversations with the leaders.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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