Town hall takeaways

To the editor:

Last Saturday, state Sen. Jim Carlson and Rep. Sandra Masin had a conversation with the people they represent. The cafeteria at Metcalf Middle School was filled with interested citizens. While the focus was on health care, they told us about the various bills being debated at the state Capitol, from health care to transportation and questions of budget.

Two concerns stood out.

First was Masin’s impassioned call for better treatment of home health care workers serving our loved ones. Their salaries are set by the Legislature and start at a meager $11 per hour. The average worker earns a little over $12 per hour. These are the people who bathe our mothers and fathers and attend to their daily needs. Cashiers at Aldi’s start at $14 an hour. Something is wrong with this picture.

We can do better than the 4 percent increase one bill would give these caregivers, especially with the huge budget surplus we expect next biennium.

Second, Carlson noted a bill that would give insurance companies $542 million to “encourage” them to lower premiums of people on the individual health insurance market. Few trust it will do this. We learned Monday this top Republican policy will become law this week without Gov Mark Dayton’s signature. Sometimes compromise is ugly.

Finally, we heard from Sen. John Marty and Rep. David Bly about a long-term solution to health care in Minnesota. Their bill, the Minnesota Health Plan, would establish a system like Medicare for all, but including dental and optical coverage. This is dreaming big, but maybe it’s about time.

My “take-home” thoughts:

We are fortunate to have this senator and this representative working for us in St. Paul. Communication in their town halls is two-way. They talk and they listen well, too. They care to hear what we think. They are present and accessible to every constituent.

That’s public service in the very best Minnesota tradition.

John Wells
Eagan