Gazelka votes to insure the insurance companies instead of the people by John King

Gazelka votes to insure the insurance companies instead of the people

This is a fair question to ask:  Who needs health insurance premium relief the most?  The insurance companies themselves or Minnesotans, you and I?  The question answers itself.  We have been inflicted by 20% premium increases with no end in sight. But our senator, Senator Gazelka, was stumped by the question and in a vote last week decided to hand over $600 million in state money to the insurance companies.  He is doing this because, “I think, maybe, this will lower our premiums.”  Unhuh.  When was the last time your insurance company decided to charge you less for anything?

To be honest, the Senator did have another reason for doing this.  He said,”Minnesota Care expansion would bankrupt health care in rural Minnesota.”  What did he means by this and is it true?

Minnesota Care (MNCare) is the State run health insurance for low income people that is 25 years old this year.  It currently has 100,000 Minnesotans enrolled in it. The program insures people through a combination reduced individual premiums and a pot of money replenished by a 2% tax on health care providers. The income cap for a family of three is currently $40,000.  That pot of money, the Health Care Access Fund, is flush right now because health care in Minnesota has been a brisk business lately.  It’s a good program that works and it doesn’t cost the State much money.  Best of all it provides low cost health insurance for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Governor Dayton proposed raising the income cap for MNCare thus embracing more people and taking advantage of the guaranteed lower premiums that are a part of the program.  MNCare is able to offer lowered premiums in part because it reimburses the doctors and hospitals at lower rate just like Medical Assistance and Medicare.

So Senator Gazelka had a choice, pay the insurance companies a lot of money in hopes they will lower your premiums, or buy into an existing insurance program that is thriving and will guarantee you lower premiums. Will MNCare bankrupt health care?

Shortly there will be three new hospitals in the area; Staples, Long Prairie and Melrose.  They are building these new facilities with money from MNCare, Medical Assistance and Medicare.  These three programs make up almost three quarters (70%) of the insurance income for health care in Minnesota. Our rural hospitals have always, now and in the past, profited from the money from the three public insurance programs.  Senator Gazelka, expanded MNCare will not bankrupt health care in Minnesota.  Expanded health care coverage in Minnesota will insure that we have modern hospitals and the best care in the Midwest.

I reminded the Senator of this last week and then he went and voted to give the money to the insurance companies.

John King
15125 County 38
Long Prairie, MN 56347

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