Legislature ignoring rural health care needs
To the editor:
During 2017, the Minnesota Legislature took these steps on healthcare:
• Insurance companies received a $549 million cushion against losses associated with the small number of patients with costly claims. This was meant as an inducement to keep these companies in the marketplace.
• A proposal to allow people in this same individual market to buy into MinnesotaCare, a public program often used by farmers and other rural residents, was defeated, despite a cost estimated at only $42 million.
In 2018, further legislative malpractice is taking place:
• Nothing is being done about high deductibles or premium costs.
• The Healthcare Access Fund that subsidized care for low-income residents was raided to pay insurance companies for premium relief and reinsurance in 2017. House and Senate leadership have no plans to restore these funds.
• There are no plans for further premium relief for farmers, small businesspeople and individuals in the individual market, despite the failure of Congress to fund such relief through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
We know that the Legislature can take positive steps to help people with healthcare. For example, in 2017 people on the individual market facing huge increases in premiums got a 25% rebate on their health insurance. Farmers, small business owners and others with incomes above 400% of the poverty level, who didn’t get any premium assistance through the ACA, did receive from the state Legislature a one-time benefit.
But this year, the Republican leadership has abandoned any attempt to address the needs of rural Minnesota for affordable, accessible healthcare. Instead of addressing this very real crisis, the Minnesota House and Senate proposes to put a whole other group of Minnesotans in trouble with so-called work requirement provisions designed to kick them off Medicaid.
I stand with Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Catholic Health Association of Minnesota, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund, and others to say this is wrong. Our legislators should speak out and vote against any proposal that weakens healthcare coverage for the poor and vulnerable of Minnesota. Up until now, healthcare for their families has been the one stable thing they could count on. We need to work to build a better healthcare system where everyone in Minnesota gets the care they need.
Land Stewardship Project