By Jon Tollefson
MNA Government Relations Specialist
As the legislative session enters its final two weeks, nurses can be frustrated with profound level of inaction these past few months at the State Capitol. The legislature had the opportunity to open MinnesotaCare to anyone who can’t access health insurance through their employer or spouse. Over 100,000 Minnesotans buy their insurance on the “individual market” through MNsure, but skyrocketing premiums and high deductibles have made that unaffordable for many. Instead of opening up MinnesotaCare last year to anyone who needed it, the legislature gave the insurance industry an almost $1 billion giveaway in taxpayer funds. Even that didn’t bring down premiums for Minnesotans this year. Despite the press reports, they were basing those numbers on the full-rate of 2017 premiums, not based on the rate after the buy-down. In real terms, most Minnesotans paid more.
The only solution that will make healthcare truly affordable for all Minnesotans is a publicly-financed Single Payer system like Senator John Marty’s Minnesota Health Plan. That’s what nurses fight for every day because that’s the only way we can take control over healthcare costs and save money for Minnesotans.
But even if legislators don’t favor Single Payer, they can take action right now to open MinnesotaCare to anyone who needs access to affordable health insurance. By broadening that pool, taxpayers save money and so do people buying health insurance. It’s a win-win.
Unfortunately, ideological opposition to government programs means Minnesotans will continue to pay astronomical rates to private insurance companies instead of just doing what makes the most sense.
It’s really frustrating that politics has come to this. But we can change that together. Whenever you meet a candidate this year, ask them to support Single Payer healthcare and tell them to take action that makes sense for Minnesotans rather than hide behind stubborn ideology. Tell them to take action immediately.