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Bill would direct health department to analyze costs, benefits of universal health coverage

Americans pay more to die sooner.

We pay an average of $12,318 per person on health care annually, yet our life expectancy is only 76.1 years. Whereas other comparatively wealthy countries pay $5,829 per person and have a life expectancy of 82.4 years.

Rep. Liz Reyer (DFL-Eagan) also pointed out “devastating and avoidable” health disparities, including a lower life expectancy for Indigenous and Black Americans at 65.2 years and 70.8 years, respectively.

“In Minnesota, Black women are two to three times more likely to die during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth compared to their white counterparts. Indigenous women are four times more likely to die,” she said.

To examine possible solutions to high health costs and poor health outcomes, Reyer sponsors HF1843, which would require the Department of Health to “contract with one or more independent entities to conduct an analysis of the benefits and costs of a legislative proposal for a universal health care financing system and a similar analysis of the current health care financing system to assist the state in comparing the proposal to the current system.”

The bill has a yet-to-be-determined appropriation for fiscal year 2024.

On Thursday, the House Health Finance and Policy Committee laid the bill over for possible omnibus bill inclusion after adopting a delete-all amendment.

The goal is to ensure all Minnesotans have coverage, including all necessary health care and the ability to choose their own providers.

The analysis would compare the Reyer-sponsored Minnesota Health Plan proposal to current public and private health care financing system over a 10-year period. Performance factors to be measured include insurance coverage, benefit completeness, underinsurance, system capacity and health care spending, as well as any additional costs or savings.

“Minnesotans also deserve to know how much of our healthcare spending currently goes to executive compensation and bonuses, marketing, lobbying, waste, inefficiency, complicated eligibility systems, and claims disputes,” wrote Shannon Cunningham, director of governmental and community relations at the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Dave Garibaldi, a volunteer for Health Care For All Minnesota, is for the bill and against lobbying.

“There is a better way, but powerful special interests will lobby against it every step of the way. There will be no limit to the fear mongering, distraction and disinformation they will spread in order to save their golden goose.”

He closed by quoting Winston Churchill, “Americans will always do the right thing after they have tried everything else.”

“Well folks, we have tried everything else.”

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