Commissioners get Affordable Care Act update

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners will hear an Affordable Care Act update from Family Services Income Maintenance Supervisor Theresa Schroeder at their Tuesday, April 23 meeting.

County staff training is anticipated to begin in July. The program is set to begin on Oct. 1, 2013, according to the Request for Board Action (RBA). It has been determined that County income maintenance staff will continue to serve the Medicaid population no matter how they choose to apply for coverage.

Income standards will increase. Projections show Brown County could see about 532 new enrollees. About 70 percent of the new enrollees will come from the MinnesotaCare Program, according to the RBA.

About two-thirds of the cases should already be part of the County’s program since Brown County is a MinnesotaCare enrollment site. Eligibility workers will learn new program rules and a new computer system, according to the RBA.

There will be a service reduction to accommodate higher client numbers plus a learning curve and case IT conversions, according to the RBA.

MNsure, ObamaCare, aka the health insurance exchange, is a new online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses to find health coverage to fit their budget. Some people may qualify for a low-cost or free plan, according to MNsure.

Essential health benefits include clinic and emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse disorder services including behavioral health treatment, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services, chronic disease management and pediatric services including oral and vision care, according to the RBA. MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance will continue.

Help will be available to pay for a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) from MNsure for single people with annual income as high as $45,960; couples earning up to $62,040 and families of four with up to $94,200 in annual income. Tax credits, out-of-pocket cost subsidies and other cost reductions are available. Eligibility details will be part of the MNsure website that goes live Oct. 1, 2013.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, all U.S. citizens and legal residents will be required to obtain health insurance coverage. Taxpayers that fail to do so for one or more months will pay tax penalties of the greater of $95 per adult or one percent of taxable income in 2014, $325 per adult or two percent of taxable income in 2015 and $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of taxable income in 2016. After 2016, tax penalties increase annually based on cost-of-living adjustment, according to MNsure.

Commissioners will consider approving $335,000 in 2013 Agriculture BMP (Best Management Practices) loan funds. The program provides low-interest loans to farmers interested in using conservation practices that prevent or reduce feedlot and farm field runoff or for projects that reduce existing water quality problems caused by agriculture activities or failing septic systems, according to the RBA.

The contract is for newly allocated funds that are separate from existing county septic program revolving funds.

The county board meeting starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the courthouse commissioner’s room.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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