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Press Release, State Efforts

USofCare Makes Push to Reform Minnesota’s Health Care System

Published On February 22, 2019

Minneapolis, MN – United States of Care (US of Care), a non-profit dedicated to affordable health care for every single American, has begun efforts to reform Minnesota’s health system.

US of Care, which was founded last year by Former Obama Administration Official and native Minnesotan Andy Slavitt and is co-headquartered in Minneapolis, has convened Minnesota state legislators from both sides of the aisle for the past six months with the goal of helping them develop a health policy agenda for the state.

These policymakers face critical health care issues that must be addressed this year, among them the need to stabilize the individual health insurance market and preserve funding for key health programs such as MinnesotaCare. Legislators have also expressed interest in laying the foundation for longer-term reforms to improve the health care experience of all Minnesotans. US of Care is committed to supporting both their immediate legislative priorities and their strategic vision for a healthier Minnesota.  

“Real solutions to our health care challenges can only happen if we work together,” said Representative Tina Liebling (D – MN District 26A), Chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Finance Division. “We hope to develop a shared vision for Minnesota’s health care future that is stable, affordable, accessible, and–most importantly–helps all Minnesotans live healthy and productive lives.”

“I think there are great opportunities for bipartisan collaboration in Minnesota’s health care system,” said Senator Michelle Benson (R – MN District 31), Chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. “We can find common ground and pursue a health care agenda that helps control costs while allowing Minnesota to continue to lead in healthcare innovation.”

Near Team and Long Term

Even as they work for results in the current legislative session, US of Care is beginning an initiative to dramatically alter the statewide healthcare landscape. United States of Care, along with a growing list of partners, aims to help Minnesota become the first state in the U.S. in which social disadvantages will not impact health outcomes by 2030. Despite being a national leader in many health-related fields, Minnesota experiences some of the worst health inequities in the country. To combat these health inequities, United States of Care has launched a partnership with The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation to bring stakeholders together to collaborate to close equity and other opportunity gaps. The partnership recently launched a feasibility study and environmental scan of all the existing initiatives in Minnesota to close these gaps. The feasibility study will identify potential opportunities to improve health and eliminate inequities at a systematic level. Historically, there have been numerous innovative projects built to advance opportunities for less advantaged communities in Minnesota. This project is uniquely positioned to build on current efforts and expertise to break down the systematic barriers to create sustainable change.

“It is disappointing that race, zip code, and income are primary factors in people’s health care in Minnesota,” said Andy Slavitt, Board Chair at United States of Care. “In Minnesota, the average life expectancy for whites is nearly two years higher than that of African Americans– and a decade more than Native Americans. This is unacceptable, and makes the work we are doing together that much more urgent.”

Top Tier Bipartisan Team

To lead all of these efforts, and oversee state engagement work across the country to increase access to affordable care, Joanna Dornfeld has joined United States of Care as Senior Director of State Affairs, based in Minneapolis. Until last month, Dornfeld served as Chief of Staff for Governor Mark Dayton. US of Care has also brought the Hon. Joe Hoppe on board as Strategic Advisor for State Affairs. He previously served for 16 years in the Republican caucus of the Minnesota House of Representatives. These new leaders demonstrate US of Care’s commitment to Minnesota and in other key states across the country.  

United States of Care will soon be moving to a new headquarters space in Northeast Minneapolis, in order to accommodate the growing staff who are working to both combat health inequity in Minnesota and develop long-term strategies for the state’s health system.

Joanna Dornfeld joins United States of Care as Senior Director of State Affairs, based in Minneapolis. Until last month, Joanna served as Chief of Staff for Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota, managing 24 cabinet-level agencies and the daily operations of state government. She served in several roles in the governor’s office, including overseeing legislative affairs.  Joanna worked in the Minnesota legislature earlier in her career and knows how to get things done at both the executive and legislative level and is passionate about our mission.

Hon. Joe Hoppe joins United States of Care as Strategic Advisor for State Affairs after 16 years serving in the Republican caucus of the Minnesota House of Representatives. There, he chaired the House Commerce & Regulatory Reform Committee as well as serving in a leadership role with the National Council of Insurance Legislators. Joe brings a broad background in health care and health insurance issues and will be working on state partnerships with legislators, executive branch officials, and other stakeholders to advance the USofCare mission.

About the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation combines knowledge, compassion, and action to improve lives today and for generations to come. Wilder creates lasting, positive change rooted in people through direct services, research and community building.