Letter: Bennett column was misleading

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, November 1, 2018

I’m writing in response to Rep. Peggy Bennett’s recent column on health care. Instead of relying on evidence-based sources regarding the state of our health care, her column was filled with inaccuracies, unsourced facts and misleading statements,

Peggy wrote that Minnesota has gone from being “renowned for having one of the best health care systems in our nation” to now being in a “tailspin” as a result of the Affordable Care Act. This is misleading, especially in regard to how we compare with other states. America’s Health Rankings and The Commonwealth Fund provide annual state-by-state assessments of our nation’s health care. In 2009, America’s Health Rankings and The Commonwealth Fund rated Minnesota at sixth and fourth, respectively. In 2017, they ranked Minnesota at sixth and second. So while access to affordable health care remains a huge challenge in Minnesota, we’re still doing better than most states.

Peggy also stated that thousands of Minnesotans have lost their insurance plans since the ACA was enacted. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the uninsured rate in 2009 was 9 percent. In 2017, the rate decreased to 6.3 percent. While some individuals have lost their insurance, we’ve actually seen a net increase in coverage. The ACA isn’t perfect, but it has allowed more Minnesotans to be insured, and without it many among us would still be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

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Peggy also tied the Affordable Care Act to Albert Lea losing its full-service hospital. We’re not losing our hospital because of the ACA but rather because Mayo Clinic leadership made a business decision based on false financial pretenses. This was proven by the subsequent quorum report, which found that operating a full-service hospital in Freeborn County is, in fact, financially viable. Peggy would know this if she was as involved in SOH as she claims.

Peggy also misrepresented the “MinnesotaCare buy-in” plan. First, this buy-in plan is not “MinnesotaCare for all.” Second, Peggy states that under MinnesotaCare, all providers will get reimbursed at 50 percent. That’s also not accurate. MinnesotaCare does not set provider reimbursement rates. These rates are instead negotiated between health care providers and private insurers as verified by Minnesota House Research.

Further, Terry Gjersvik has not been pushing for this plan as Peggy claimed in her column, and Peggy knows better. Terry has repeatedly stated that we should consider all options to increase access and decrease costs.

Peggy’s column doesn’t “put people before politics.” Its content came from Republican Party talking points instead of fact-based research. In this case, she is putting her party before the people in our community.

District 27A needs better representation. Vote for Terry Gjersvik for Minnesota House.

Ted Myers

Albert Lea