Amidst the debates heard nationwide regarding the reformation of the American health care system, Minnesota may soon be making a move towards increased privatization.
Recently, the House Health Care Finance Committee, led by chairman Matt Dean, a Republican representative from the Stillwater area, put forth a proposal that would drastically change the way in which many Minnesotans purchase health insurance.
The plan, in its most recent form, would move the 95,000 people currently insured through MinnesotaCare, a system originally put into place as an assurance that individuals too well-off to access Medicaid but still too poor to purchase individual insurance would be covered, into private plans through the state-run MNSure.
There would also be an addendum included with the plan that assures that those who lose coverage in the change can purchase insurance. Dean has repeatedly expressed sympathy with people who may become lost in the political shuffle but maintains that the status quo is unsustainable.
According to Dean, the proposal would save the state of Minnesota over $9 million in the next two years alone. This newfound surplus, he posits, could be put towards other care functions, such as increased funding for elder-care facilities and mental health treatment, two Republican priorities.
Of course, the proposal is not without its critics. Gita Worcester is the Senior Vice President of public affairs at UCare, which provides coverage to about 30 percent of state residents currently insured through the MinnesotaCare system. In an interview with MPR News, Worcester contented that the change would cost, “…about a couple of hundred dollars, at least, in differences in premium through the year and deductible differences.”
Additionally, Liz Doyle, an associate director for TakeAction Minnesota, a nonprofit that advocates for public healthcare options, opined, “Our concern is that it would end the guarantee of affordable coverage that MinnesotaCare currently provides and subject low-income working families to potentially much higher healthcare costs on the private market.”
In a piece he penned for the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Representative Dean attempted to explain the rationale behind his plan to change the current healthcare system. In countering individuals who contend that these failings of a the individual insurance market are unimportant, given the relatively population affected, he asks of the reader, “Imagine a huge summer storm blows the roof off every family home and farm in Rochester, St. Cloud and Duluth. Would anyone say, ‘Only 250,000 are impacted, and 95 percent of the state is fine, so it’s not a real emergency?’”
He then expressed dissatisfaction with people who have foisted the faltering system on an unwilling public, seeming to shirk responsibility for the legislation they have enacted. He writes, “As the individual health insurance market buckles and appears ready to collapse, the folks who brought us MNsure seem hopelessly out of touch with those who are forced to live under it. While the authors of MNsure shrug shoulders and point fingers, Minnesota suffers.”