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Minnesota Residents Able to Keep Health Plan Following Mediation

Tuesday, October, 6, 2015

South Country Health Alliance will be added as an option in 2016 for 10 counties that previously did not have access after the state’s competitive bidding process for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. South Country is a county-based health plan that currently services 12 counties throughout the state and is located in Owatonna.


In July, the governor announced it would not be an option for 10 counties, including Steele, Dodge, Waseca, and Goodhue as of the first of the year. The association currently provided care to those 65 years of age and younger, which would have stopped in 2016. That amounted to nearly 85% of the South Country’s customers and the potential closure of its 14 year old business. The action would have displaced nearly 100 employees.


Following the governor’s announcement, the counties took action and appealed the competitive bidding process. They received a reprieve and the alliance will now stay in operation in 10 counties. Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare participants will now have the options of choosing plans offered by South Country next year and those currently with a plan will not be forced to switch at year’s end.


The decision came after a three person mediation panel worked for three days of expedited mediation, which is an option under Minnesota state law. The panel considered the concerns of the county, regarding patients and employees of South Country, and of Minnesota’s 87 counties, 28 proceeded with mediation and 25 participated in an expedited process regarding the issue over health care concerns.