Guest Column: Democrats’ plan would gut public safety net

Published 10:00 pm Monday, June 25, 2018

Guest Column, By Matt Dean

On June 18, Ms. Jennifer Vogt-Erickson penned a letter in this fine paper regarding health care reform. I agree with her when she states that it is an important issue for farmers.

Matt Dean

Unfortunately, she falls into the trap too many partisans fall into (on the right and the left). Ms. Vogt-Erickson confuses a problem that needs to be solved with a political weapon to attack someone else. The Democrat party (which she represents) is offering “MinnesotaCare for all” as a solution. This is the abandoned “public option” originally proposed by President Obama, whereby people could purchase their way onto a public program that others qualify for through disability or low income. Ms. Vogt-Erickson attacked me for using the term “MNCare for All,” however, that’s exactly what it is and that’s what her party referred to it as until recent polls must have shown it terrifies people.

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Do you think millionaires should be on Medicaid and food stamps? Heck no.

President Obama made promises to Minnesota through the ACA. “If like your plan, you can keep your plan.” “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” “You will save $2,500/year.” “Doctors will be unburdened from red tape and paperwork.”

How’d that work out? Premiums have tripled. So have deductibles. Those who pay more get less, while those who pay little or nothing get more and more. The plan you liked is now illegal. Your doctor you liked is still in town, but can’t see you because she is out of network. The $2,500 you were supposed to save turned into a $12,000 deductible that means no one can go to the doctor anyway. Meanwhile folks from other states can merely claim to want to live here and be jobless and receive immediate care with no premium, deductible, copay or appointment in any emergency room.

Does that sound fair?

The Democrats’ plan to put rich people on to public programs will literally take people who pay into the system through private health insurance and put them on public programs designed for the very poor and disabled. This will gut our public safety net and close the doors of rural hospitals. Reimbursement for MNCare is around half what private insurance pays. Hospitals in Greater Minnesota is hanging on by the skin of their teeth now. They cant survive on fifty-cents-on-the-dollar.

Rep. Peggy Bennett is a rare legislator who keeps her head down and focuses on solutions. Farmers were looking for a way to cooperatively buy insurance. She worked hard to get the first program up and running this year and it promises to be a nation-leading idea. She knows that the problem in medical care is not going to get solved by making government bigger, bossier and nosier. It is going to get solved by our great doctors, nurses, researchers and employers. You are truly fortunate to have such a thoughtful legislator who is focused on finding ideas that work. Health care is an important issue in the upcoming election. When you hear a promise that sounds too good to be true, think back to “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

Matt Dean, R-White Bear, is chairman of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee with the Minnesota House of Representatives.