Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

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

Back to profile

Legislative Update from Rep. Josh Heintzeman

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Below is a column that will be published in Saturday's edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch regarding Democrats' plan to reinstate Minnesota's "sick" tax. Please take a moment and give it a read.

The first month of the 2019 legislative session is coming to a close and it has been a busy one. This year’s work is focused on putting together a new two-year budget that will fund state government for the next 24 months. Work on the budget is underway as we're racking up the hours in committee meetings; hearing from state agencies and departments about their budgetary wants & needs for the coming biennium.

One issue that has emerged during this first month centers on Governor Walz and House Democrats’ plan to reinstate the "sick tax". The provider tax or “sick” tax as it’s sometimes called, is a $600 million a year cost levied on most patient services conducted in Minnesota. This includes procedures like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, doctor visits, emergency room visits, dentistry and virtually every other type of medical procedure or visit.

Simply put, this tax increases health care costs for each and every Minnesotan. Period.

I find the proposal especially interesting due to the fact that Governor Walz and Democrats spent last summer and fall campaigning on a promise to lower health care costs. This proposal literally does the exact opposite.

What makes this proposal even more puzzling is the fact that the state is currently sitting on a $1.5 billion budget surplus. Why on earth would we be talking about raising taxes, especially health care taxes, when the state has a $1.5 billion budget surplus? Instead, we should be looking for ways to reduce the already heavy tax burden on Minnesotans and their families.

You may be wondering at this point, “Why are Democrats proposing a tax on health care?” Their reasoning is based on the belief that the funds collected from this tax are critically important to providing health services to Minnesotans. What they fail to mention is that the fund currently has enough revenue in it to cover costs for the rest of the biennium. Further, the state has more than enough margin in its general fund to cover any costs from this account that are deemed necessary—all without raising health care costs on Minnesotans.

In addition to those steps, the state could easily make up for any revenue lost by finally cracking down on waste and fraud within our public programs or working to rein in the out-of-control inflationary costs that everyone agrees threaten the stability of our state budget.

Just last year, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Budget Director informed lawmakers that Minnesota is losing tens of millions of dollars per month by failing to implement proper systems that verify program eligibility for Minnesota public programs. Further, DHS has acknowledged that fraud within the childcare assistance program is a "big problem," costing the state tens of millions of dollars. This is in addition to a number of reports from the non-partisan Legislative Auditor who has repeatedly found that the state spends hundreds of millions in public program benefits on recipients who are not eligible.

At the end of the day, the message should be clear; don’t raise our health care costs. I urge you to contact Governor Walz and others to let them know that we can do better. Let’s focus on free-market solutions to lower the costs of health care. Not raise health care costs through an unnecessary tax.

Staying in Touch

That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more information for you as the session progresses. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me to share any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may have. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4333 or via email at

Thanks and have a great weekend,