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Dan Feehan: Fighting for affordable, accessible health care

Guest Column by Dan Feehan


For communities across southern Minnesota, access to health care is an all too familiar challenge. Our rural communities know what it means to drive long hours to access even the most basic healthcare. And in an emergency, we do not have hours to spare.

When it comes to health care, minutes and even seconds matter. I witnessed that firsthand working with combat medics in Iraq. When I came back home and my wife was giving birth to my second child, she was in labor for only an hour.  For those folks suffering from heart attacks and strokes, minutes, or even seconds, can determine life, permanent disability or even death. We need to do our part to make sure our rural communities have access to emergency facilities, but we also must ensure access to routine care to minimize the need for emergency care in the first place.

Dan Feehan

Congressman Hagedorn and the drug and insurance companies that bankroll his campaign want to stand in the way of progress by presenting false choices. These false choices are not only harmful, they are intentionally misleading. In fact, according to the Chartis Center for Rural Health, Congressman Hagedorn’s plan would close hospitals across southern Minnesota. It’s understandable, however, why Representative Hagedorn would run away from his record and mislead the voters. Our representative has voted against protecting people with pre-existing conditions and has consistently stood by drug company donors to oppose lowering drug costs for patients. Representative Hagedorn is also the lone member of Minnesota’s bipartisan delegation who actively blocked efforts to get health care to Minnesotans by refusing to sign the letter in support of funding MinnesotaCare. His platform may advertise that he is a champion for patients, but his record tells a much different story. Under Congressman Hagedorn’s plan, drug and insurance companies would call the shots and prioritize profits over people.

I am refusing donations from drug and insurance companies because I believe southern Minnesotans are ready to move forward and live in communities with affordable and accessible health care. I am fighting to expand on the work of the ACA to build a healthier future for Minnesotans. I am committed to protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions, allowing patients the choice to select their health care providers and eliminating local insurance monopolies. I believe we must increase reimbursement rates for our health care providers and create a public option through an expansion of Medicare so rural communities have access to high-quality health care. By doing this, more people will have affordable health care and they will actually go to see their doctors to get the health care they need. This is how we keep our rural hospitals open, not cutting health care for millions of Americans.

Rural communities deserve comprehensive, high-quality health care, including creative solutions such as widespread access to broadband internet to support access to telemedicine for preventative care. However, we cannot rely on telemedicine alone to provide healthc are to rural communities. Telemedicine must be a complement to local hospitals and efforts to recruit health care providers to rural areas. We need to address the health care shortage by investing in programs that promote early exposure to health care professions, and recruit and train health care providers in rural areas.

This November we have the opportunity to give a voice to our rural communities, to invest in innovative solutions, and to protect those with pre-existing conditions. Together, we can create a southern Minnesota that puts people’s health first.

Dan Feehan, DFL-North Mankato, is running for the 1st District commissioner seat.