Obamacare – Minnesotans can do better

by Dan Hall
Special to Sun Thisweek
Dakota County Tribune

This week the political leadership of MNsure (Minnesota’s version of Obamacare) touted reports that nearly 170,000 Minnesotans signed up for insurance through the health care exchange. The reason for their misplaced pride was their claim to have surpassed their (twice lowered) enrollment target.

While the Gov. Mark Dayton administration and the leaders of MNsure are busy exchanging high-fives and spending their performance bonuses, Minnesotans who care wonder whether the $160 million spent on MNsure’s broken website was wise.

Consider the following:

• MNsure’s enrollment data fails to answer the pressing question – how many MNsure enrollees are newly insured Minnesotans. We do not know whether we are really addressing a societal need or simply moving people from one type of coverage to another.

• MNsure’s enrollment numbers purposefully conflate two types of enrollees. They fail to differentiate between those who bought private insurance and thus paid additional taxes to support MNsure – and those whose insurance costs are subsidized by the purchases of others.

• In fact, only 47,000 MNsure enrollees bought private insurance (30,000 enrollees less than anticipated). This means that MNsure is financially out of balance and in danger of needing even greater public subsidies in the future.

• Both the U.S. House Oversight Committee and Minnesota’s own Office of the Legislative Auditor are investigating MNsure for everything from data-breaches (that put enrollees at risk of identity theft) to good old fashioned incompetence.

Minnesota didn’t need intervention from Washington and MNsure bureaucrats to provide excellent health care for its residents. Prior to MNsure, Minnesotans were some of the most satisfied health care consumers in the nation. A 2012 survey by the Bush Foundation found that 70 percent of Minnesotans felt supported by the health care system, and capable of making good decisions for themselves and their families. Minnesota ranked sixth in the nation for its highly insured population (90 percent-plus).

Before MNsure a generous safety net was in place for the working poor, and children could stay on their parents’ plan until age 25. Even those who were turned down in the private marketplace due to a pre-existing condition were guaranteed coverage under Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, a nonprofit organization with a 35-year history in the state.

Minnesota didn’t need Obamacare and MNsure bureaucrats in order to provide excellent health care for residents before, and we shouldn’t accept subpar choices now. It is generally understood that the president was wrong when he told us: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.”

Now that the truth is known, we need to leave broken promises behind and move on to true health care reform.

The Democrat majority in the Minnesota House and Senate and the governor’s office have the power to fix health care in Minnesota. With one vote and the stroke of a pen, we could return to the days when the vast majority of consumers felt empowered by their numerous healthcare choices. The DFL should be courageous, acknowledge their partisan error and join me in fighting for health care freedom in Minnesota.

State Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, can be reached at Sen.Dan.Hall@senate.mn. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.

  • Cliff Volkmann

    Thank you for serving our community.

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