ST. CLOUD -- With the new American Healthcare Act working its way through Congress, healthcare is at the front of millions of minds.  At a public meeting held Wednesday night, the group "This is Medicaid" spoke about the possible changes to Medicaid if the AHCA becomes law.

"This is Medicaid" is made up of several healthcare advocacy groups that represent those receiving healthcare under Medicaid, and the expansion passed under the American Care Act, otherwise known as "ObamaCare".

Some of these groups include:

  • AARP Minnesota
  • Allina Health
  • Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis
  • Minnesota Hospital Association

Under current law, states receive matching federal funding for the increase in provider payments. It also extends several provisions of Medicaid, including the Children's Health Insurance Program.

The group is holding these public meetings to raise awareness, and urge people to contact their Representatives to help them understand what the AHCA could revoke. "This is Medicaid" says over 19,000 people in St. Cloud currently benefit from Medicaid.

The group also worries that ending the 1:1 matching funding under the the current law, could impact other parts of the state budget such as transportation, schools and environmental programs, as the state could be forced to bridge the gap to ensure those benefiting from Medicaid don't lose coverage.

Laura Mortenson is the Communications Manager for the Minnesota Budget Project. She calls Medicaid a kind of "third pillar" of healthcare.

"It allows people to access a more diverse set of services whether it's in-home care, dental care, or care with mental illness among others."

"This is Medicaid" held two other public meetings across Minnesota Wednesday night in Bloomington and Northfield. Mortenson says these first three meetings are just the start.

"We have hopes of developing more community conversations across Minnesota as there's interest, we are happy to spread this word, all summer long we'll be talking about this and we'd be happy if more and more Minnesotans got involved."

Senior Policy Director of The Arc Minnesota Steve Larson, spoke at the event, calling Medicaid a "lifeline for Minnesotans with disabilities and their families."

Along with Larson were Bret Reuter Director of Mission and Spiritual Care at St. Cloud Hospital, and Cindy Owens, Local Director for Arc Midstate. All three shared personal stories of Medicaid's effect on their families.

For more information about Medicaid, visit the Center on Budget and Priority Policies website, to contact your representative, look here.

Richard Leguil, WJON