by John Kline
Special to Sun Thisweek
Dakota County Tribune
The numbers are daunting. 140,000. That’s the number of people in Minnesota who already have been notified their health coverage will be canceled as a result of the president’s health care law, referred to by most including the president as “Obamacare.”
For many Minnesotans a cancellation notice means more than the loss of an insurance policy; it means losing access to the trusted doctors, pediatricians, and nurses who care for their families. We all know how critical these relationships are, especially in difficult moments when a loved one is injured or ill. But for countless families, those relationships will soon be lost, all because Washington bureaucrats think they know best.
In the more than three years since the president’s health care plan became law, I continually heard from constituents about the endless concerns they had with a law that has created 20,000 pages of regulations. Now, as the law is being implemented, I hear daily from Minnesotans who because of the new law, are seeing their rates skyrocket or are losing their health insurance plan altogether and being forced into government run health care where they can no longer keep their doctor, clinic, or hospital.
Linda and her husband live in Inver Grove Heights. Her husband has worked for a reputable company for more than 30 years. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with lung disease and had a lung transplant. “While the lung transplant was successful and saved his life, he has had many complications since,” Linda explains. Her husband is 59 and was told they could keep this insurance until he was 65. Due to Obamacare, she said, her husband’s employer was dropping their coverage since he was disabled and retired. “This is devastating to us,” she told me. “I am very angry that we had to be cut from our policy because of Obamacare costs.”
Kurt from Eagan is seeing his health care premiums rise $200 a month because of Obamacare. “I understand I am getting more coverage, but it is coverage that I don’t need or want,” he said. “I am perfectly capable of picking coverage that protects my family, I don’t appreciate my federal government making those decisions for me.”
Debbie from Rosemount received a notice in the mail that the premium for her insurance is increasing by 50 percent a month. “The bone I have been thrown is that – at age 62 – I have coverage for birth control… and childbirth,” she explained. “My plan now is to drop coverage entirely, pay the Obama tax, and take my chances until I am Medicare-eligible.”
Jim is a self-employed plumber in Inver Grove Heights. He is married with three children. His family was notified their health care plan was being dropped at the end of the year due to Obamacare mandates. Jim was notified the closest available plan for his family will increase in cost by 37 percent. “We are going to pay more and get less coverage,” Jim said. “We will be paying for services that we do not want or need. I still cannot believe that in America we are forced to comply (with) mandated health insurance or face a penalty.”
Mark of Prior Lake watched helplessly as his son lost his job and health care because his employer, due to Obamacare, is now only offering jobs of 28 hours-or-less per week.
Health care reform didn’t have to take away coverage from those Americans who like what they have. It didn’t have to put federal bureaucrats in charge of what procedure is covered and what medication is not. Washington’s goal should have been to fix what’s broken in our health care system while preserving what works – driving down costs without sacrificing quality. During debate of Obamacare, I joined many colleagues in support of a plan designed to reduce health care costs, and improve the quality of care – all at a price our country can afford. That plan would have allowed Americans who liked their health care coverage to keep it – a stark contrast to the law being implemented today. I will continue to fight for commonsense, patient-centered solutions rather than the president’s current big government approach to health care.
“It infuriates us that the government can tell us what health care we have to go with, and that we will lose our coverage,” Diane of Rosemount said. “We are not in control of our own lives anymore.”
John Kline is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He also serves on the House Armed Services Committee. He and his wife, Vicky, live in Burnsville. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.