Minnesota: Health plan cuts target social issues

Excerpted from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Emphasis added.

Circumcisions and impotence drugs such as Viagra are no longer being routinely covered by Minnesota’s publicly subsidized health plans for low-income residents.

These and other benefit cuts, which took effect Thursday, were driven largely by lawmakers seeking to trim costs from this year’s state budget. But the cuts aimed at some particularly sensitive social issues.

Projected savings through benefit reductions, fiscal year 2006:

$1.3 million: Require prior state authorization for non-emergency imaging (CT, MRI, etc.), hysterectomies, bariatrics, non-emergency Cesarean deliveries and other procedures.

$1.1 million: Limit coverage of emergency room visits to those involving emergencies or urgent care needs.

$216,000: Limit coverage of circumcisions to those required by religious practice.

$178,000: Deny coverage of drugs for erectile dysfunction.

$15,000: Deny coverage of sex-change operations.

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