Rural Minnesotans Frustrated About Health Care + Internet Access

“Of all the issues, the price of health care dominated the list, with farmers and small business owners reporting costs of $25,000 to $45,000 per year in health insurance premiums and deductibles. . .

Wertish said those at the meetings voiced almost universal support for some kind of public health care option to be implemented, such as a buy-in option to Minnesota­Care or even a single-payer program. Other ideas have included more support for programs such as health care cooperatives, or reinstatement of a high-risk health care pool funded by insurance companies.” —Star Tribune, May 2nd

Respondents to the survey by the Minnesota Farmer’s Union also the raised the issue of internet access, which they said should be served as a public utility.

To Curb Rising Health Insurance Costs, Some States Try ‘Reinsurance Pools’

“A couple of years ago, the health insurance exchange in Minnesota – MNsure – was in deep trouble. Health insurance premiums for individual policies had shot up by as much as 67 percent, among the steepest increases in the country.  Insurers were abandoning the market, leaving 116,000 Minnesotans with scant choices.

The Minnesota Legislature offered a solution: a $271 million, publicly funded reinsurance pool that would help health insurance companies pay the most expensive medical claims, thereby lowering overall insurance premiums. The hope was that backstopping the insurers would stabilize the market and halt the rocket-like rise in premiums.

So far, so very good. In its first year, the reinsurance pool has performed even better than expected. According to the Urban Institute, 2018 premiums offered on MNsure not only didn’t increase, they fell by 15 percent.” —Pew Research, April 9th

MN Republicans Push Health Care Co’s to Post Commonly Billed Services

Minnesota lawmakers are proposing new requirements for health care providers to share with patients their prices on common procedures.

Under legislation moving through the state Senate, providers would have to post the prices for their 25-most commonly billed services at their clinic and on their websites.

Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, said during a news conference Thursday that gag clauses in contracts and rigid regulations are keeping patients in the dark. Jensen, a physician, said pricing transparency can lead to larger improvements in health care.

“Currently we don’t have a patient-centered free marketplace, because we’re not giving it a chance,” Jensen said. “How can you ask people to be responsible in terms of how they use their health care dollars, how they steward their resources, if we won’t tell them what the price is? It makes no sense.” ~MPR, April 7th

New Insurance Rule Means MN Premiums Rise

“Starting next year, the federal government won’t penalize people who don’t carry health insurance, so fewer people are expected to be insured. Hospitals, required to provide emergency care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, are expecting more red ink as a result.

This might hurt a little.

“The insured patients have to make it up. Which means your insurance is going up,” said John Strange, CEO of St. Luke’s in Duluth.” ~St. Peter Herald, April 3rd

MN GOP Reps Copy Bills for Medicaid Work Requirements

“House Speaker Kurt Daudt joined Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, in sponsoring a bill that would impose work requirements for those receiving public health care assistance who are not the sole caregiver for a child nor someone with disabilities. They believe the requirements will boost the number of people participating in the state’s workforce.

Similar legislation is proposed in the state Senate and has the support of Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, and Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, who chairs the health and human services committee.

The proposal comes just two months after President Donald Trump’s administration signaled it supported work requirements to obtain taxpayer-funded medical coverage. Several states are considering similar rules.” ~Pioneer Press, March 13th

DFL Candidates Agree: MN’s Next Governor Should Advance A Single-Payer Health Care System

“When it came to issues, the candidates frequently agreed. They supported raising the minimum wage, expanding free access to higher education and protecting public pensions. Minnesota’s next governor, they agreed, should get the state on track to a single-payer health care system, crack down on wage theft and make needed investments in infrastructure and public schools.”

DFL candidates for governor met for the AFL-CIO forum and discussed some of the issues both important to their constituency and the entire state, including moving towards single-payer healthcare. Watch the whole discussion.