Editorial: Upward trend of uninsured is not good news

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 7, 2005

When Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, and Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, agree on issues related to health care, it’s usually time to take notice.

The two lawmakers &045; who chair key committees dealing with health care matters in the Legislature &045; recently commented on a report done by the University of Minnesota which indicated more people in the state are going without health insurance.

In 2001, 5.4 percent of Minnesotans lacked public or private insurance coverage. That number rose to 6.7 last year.

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For outstate Minnesota the figure was at 6.8 percent last year &045; up from 5.4 percent in 2001. The metro area posted 5.3 percent uninsured in 2001 and 6.6 percent last year.

While Minnesota remains a state with one of the highest number of residents insured, the upward trend of the uninsured in recent years isn’t good news.

Bradley and Berglin both noted in a recent Associated Press story that the numbers put more financial burden on average Minnesotans.

Bradley noted that the higher the uninsured numbers the more pressure for government programs to provide coverage.

Of course, the problem is that while these two lawmakers agree on the problem, they have differing notions of how to go about fixing it.

In the past, Berglin has called for more small employers to be included in the state’s health care program that serves low income families as well as a cap on premiums. Bradley, for his part, has wanted the focus to be on marketplace incentives to lower costs.

It’s time state leaders either choose one alternative or the other or find some type of compromise and move ahead with fixing the problem.

The longer we wait, clearly the more expensive health care becomes for all Minnesotans.

(The Daily Journal (International Falls))