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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bob Dettmer (R)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

ST. PAUL, MN — State Representative Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake) is urging the new DFL House Majority and Governor Walz not to raise health care costs on Minnesotans by restoring the sick tax—a 2 percent tax levied on most patient services in Minnesota, including things like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits, and more.


“Our new House majority promised they would focus on lowering health care costs over the next two years, but reinstating this tax will only increase health care costs on those who are trying to get well,” Dettmer said.


The sick tax, which was eliminated as part of bipartisan legislation passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2011, is set to expire starting January 1, 2020. In total, restoring the tax would result in a more than $600 million increase on health care costs for Minnesotans next year alone.


Over the past week, Governor Walz called it a "nonstarter" to end the tax, and DFL House Health and Human Services Finance Chair Tina Liebling said it was "essential" to restore the tax or replace its revenue.


Dettmer said a number of options exist to replace sick tax revenue next year, including funds from our $1.5 billion surplus or cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse in our public health and welfare programs.


“Minnesotans are paying enough as it is for health care,” Dettmer said. “By curbing wasteful government spending, we have the ability to ensure that services are there for those who need it without increasing health care costs on every Minnesotan that makes a doctor visit.”


Last year, numbers from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Budget Director indicated that Minnesota is losing tens of millions of dollars per month by failing to implement periodic data matching (PDM), which helps verify program eligibility for Minnesota public programs.


Dettmer also noted that DHS has acknowledged that fraud within the childcare assistance program is a "big problem," costing the state tens of millions of dollars, and the non-partisan legislative auditor has released multiple reports detailing hundreds of millions in public program benefits going to recipients who are not eligible.