The fight goes on: Locals campaign for law changes

The above photo ran in the June 9, 2016 edition of the Moose Lake Star-Gazette alongside and article about the grassroots campaign to change legislation by those shown above. The  original description of the photo: Scott Killerud, Rick Rayburn, Rose Rayburn, Ellen Killerud, Julie Gelle, Claudia Foussard and Robert Gelle celebrate Governor Mark Dayton signing the Omnibus supplemental budget bill June 1, removing liens on Medical Assistance recipients between 55 and 65 years of age for general health care.

Six years ago, Rick Rayburn and six other locals discovered that liens had been placed on their properties in amounts varying between $11,000 and $30,000. This started a grassroots campaign to stop liens being placed on estates for health care expenses. 

Without their prior knowledge, when they had applied for MNsure coverage in 2014, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health had routed them into Medical Assistance. Unknown to them at the time of their applications and for others in the 55 to 65-year-old age group, by signing up for Medical Assistance (MA), estate liens would be placed on their property when after their demise the state would use these funds to recover costs paid by the state for their health care. 

The group was shocked and began a 13-month long grassroots campaign to change the law.  With the help of Senator Jason Rarick and former Senator Tony Lourey the group successfully in 2016 and early 2017, got the law changed. In January of 2017, a final agreement was put into law stopping estate liens on MA clients between 55 and 65 for recovery of health care premiums or medical expenses paid on their behalf for general health care. 

In a series of articles the Moose Lake Star-Gazette followed the progress of the 2016 and 2017 legislation that the grassroots group made a reality. In January of 2021, S. F. No. 182 passed. This legislation was a final piece of the puzzle for the group. Even though the law no longer allowed for the collection of estate liens for general healthcare costs paid by the state, the records of those original liens still exist. Expunging those records for those signed up for health care when MA expanded under the Affordable Care Act, the population that the grassroots group fought so hard for, is the final step. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have both confirmed to Rayburn that retroactively estate liens could be put in place if the legislation was changed. 

“This is essentially identity theft enticed by MNsure so that the state can profit in the future using personal information that was collected for another purpose,” Rayburn said. The goal that Rayburn stressed in a phone interview was that transparent contracts need to happen. Rayburn says that “If S.F. 182 passes it should take care of people who were not told about the recovery process.”

S.F. 182 presented by Rarick and passed the Minnesota Senate and a companion bill is to be introduced in the House by Representatives Nathan Nelson and Mike Sundin. As Rayburn and the grassroots group learned in 2016, a law has much further to go after passing either the House or Senate. There are an estimated five more hearings before the law is truly in place according to Rayburn. 

Groups as involved as Rayburn and others have made the process of getting this legislation started easier. The stories and information gathered and shared with Rarick and others has made the process of drafting and passing legislation much simpler. When asked if the issue would have received the same attention if it had not been for Rayburn and others Rarick said, “It sure wouldn’t have. Rick and others in his group did an incredible job of getting all the information.”

S.F. 182 is making its way through several subcommittees of the Senate. “This is the right thing to do so that people are not surprised down the line,” said Rarick. 

 

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