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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Governor's Single-Payer Proposal is Not Solution to MNsure Crisis

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Two weekends ago, I sat dumbfounded as I read Governor Dayton's editorial in these pages. While I am new to the Health and Human Services Finance Committee, I'm certainly not new to the MNsure debate, and I've been hearing from folks whose lives have been turned upside down by MNsure since before I took office two and a half years ago.

What's most disturbing is that, after creating one of the most devastating and disappointing programs in the history of Minnesota, Governor Dayton is now pivoting towards a single-payer system built around MinnesotaCare.

Off the cuff this may sound fantastic and though I certainly agree many of the elements of MinnesotaCare are attractive, the basic and fundamental flaw with this idea is, as always, the cost. Recently, a Health and Human Services Finance Committee discussion centered around the Governor's proposal. What many advocates for a single-payer system try to sweep under the rug is that it would cost Minnesota’s taxpayers and arm and a leg.

Our second largest spending area in the state budget is already Health and Human Services. In fact, if things remain as they are, the HHS area of the budget is projected to increase by $2.4 billion (20%) in the coming biennium. Again, this is without moving to the Governor’s proposed single-payer system and the many new expenses that would come with that.

If you have been reading the headlines, I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even experienced the dire situation folks are facing right now in trying to keep up with premium increases of 50-60% this year. We're already at the breaking point in the insurance market due to the state exchange. And yet, rather than acknowledging the need to reform MNsure, Democrats are ready to move on to the next Chernobyl with a single-payer system.

I'm sorry folks, but we absolutely must continue to build on the reforms that we passed just a couple of weeks ago. We need more options and transparency in our market place, not less.

In order to increase competition, for-profit insurance providers will now be able to sell health plans in Minnesota, creating more choice for people looking find affordable coverage at a cost they can manage.

There will also be more transparency around premium rates through a provision that requires the Department of Commerce to release insurance rate changes within 10 days of when they are filed by insurance companies. If this provision had been law in 2016, legislators would have had much more time to find a solution and avoid the crisis we are in now, and folks could have spent more time shopping for a plan they could afford.

We also prioritized continuity of care measures for families caring for loved ones in their final days by requiring insurance companies to cover end-of-life care for people whose life expectancy is 180 days or less. In addition, patients receiving life-saving treatments will also have 120 days of in-network coverage to keep seeing their existing doctor.

These reforms, and some others, were included alongside over $300 million in premium relief for qualifying individuals who purchased plans both through the MNsure exchange and on the individual market.

However, these measures were only a first step in reforming the mess Dayton and his liberal colleagues have made of our insurance market. We are just starting to scratch the surface of reform for MNsure; we don’t need to dive further into the fog with the single-payer option Governor Dayton is proposing. I think we’ve all had enough of his health insurance “solutions.”