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Let’s walk the walk on reducing health care costs

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


By Rep. Shane Mekeland

Time and again in recent months District 15B residents have made clear to me their concerns over unaffordable health care costs. They deserve results in the 2019 legislative session.

It is unfortunate that Democrats who ran our state’s health care system into the ditch are now back behind the wheel. As candidates, Democrats spent all fall talking about reducing health care costs. Now, those Democrats in Minnesota say it is “essential” to actually increase health care costs by restoring a 2-percent tax on most health care services which was set to expire this coming Jan. 1. Estimates show restoring the tax which would increase the cost of health care by more than $600 million for Minnesotans next year alone.

Yes, at a time the state has a $1.5 billion surplus, Democrats are looking to increase costs on most patient services in Minnesota, including things such as baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits and beyond.

I completely disagree with their approach because you simply don’t make health care more affordable by raising health care taxes.

There is only one way out of this mess they created and that is through less government involvement, not more. Let’s start by abandoning MNsure, which has been an abysmal failure since its inception, failing to live up to its most basic objectives of providing easy access to affordable health care. This government program has only made things worse for Minnesotans and it is time to get back to a free-market approach.

Minnesota was a national leader in health care and already was meeting the key goals of Obamacare before Democrats rushed to make us among the first states to join it. Our state had a program for people with preexisting conditions. We had MNCare and General Assistance Medical Care for people at the lower incomes.

Disappointingly, government involvement has caused us to go backward. I’ve met a number of people who have been forced to go without insurance due to cost and this cuts across a variety of social and economic demographics. As a self-employed person, this issue directly impacts me and my family.

Whatever happened to keeping your plan if you liked your plan as we were told pre-Obamacare? Nancy Pelosi came along and said I had a junk plan that needed to be replaced. Now, I’d like to ask Nancy which scrap yard they hauled my old plan off to because I’d like to salvage the parts.

Things were by no means perfect before Obamacare/MNsure and reforms remain in order. For instance, we should shift away from the practice of tying our health insurance to employers. Minnesota has some of the best health care providers and facilities in the world. Let’s work to reconnect them with their patients by getting government out of the way.

We are at a tipping point: We can push back against government overreach on health care and restore local control to help us regain our status as an innovative, free-market state. Or, we can let the Democrats continue pushing us over the cliff of full-blown government health care, Uncle Sam’s clammy mitts and all.

I’ll always stand on the side of letting people make choices that suit them best as opposed to government bureaucrats telling us what we are able to do. I will be working to lower your health care costs instead of increasing them as Democrats in St. Paul want to do with the provider tax.


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