Gov. Dayton just issued a faux apology about his statement that the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable. In Gov. Dayton’s faux apology, Gov. Dayton said “Last week I said that the Affordable Care Act ‘is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.’ I regret that my statement was wrongly used against Democratic candidates in Minnesota and elsewhere.” That’s proof that my translation was right in this post.

In that post, I quoted Sen. Lourey, the chief author of the bill that created MNsure in the Senate, as saying “This is sort of a one-time solution for 2017 to take the sting out of the rates for individuals, but we’ll still be feeling the pressure to find a longer term solution.” My translation read “We know it’s bad. We just don’t want to lose the majority because we a) voted for MNsure and b) bragged about how wonderful it would be.”

Gov. Dayton’s faux apology isn’t that health insurance premiums in the individual market are skyrocketing. Gov. Dayton’s faux apology isn’t about the fact that deductibles make the ACA insurance policies essentially unusable. Gov. Dayton’s faux apology is to DFL candidates who’ve gotten hurt because Gov. Dayton unintentionally told the truth. In politics, that’s known as a gaffe. Here’s Gov. Dayton’s letter:

The other thing that Gov. Dayton said that caught my attention is where he quoted President Obama. Here’s that portion of the faux apology:

“Yesterday, President Obama said ‘Just because a lot of the Republican criticism has been proven to be false and politically motivated, doesn’t mean there aren’t some legitimate concerns about how the law is working now.’ I agree. For the 95 percent of Minnesotans who are covered through the Medicaid expansion, MinnesotaCare or through their employer, it’s working. It’s working for the 3 percent who qualify for the federal tax credits through MNsure. But the law isn’t working well for the 2 percent of Minnesotans in the individual market who don’t receive any financial assistance to pay for their coverage.”

That’s spin of the worst kind. When a little town in southern Minnesota gets devastated with a tornado, Gov. Dayton wouldn’t issue a statement saying that most Minnesotans weren’t affected, that only a tiny portion of the state’s population was devastated.

Statistically, Gov. Dayton is partially right. Everyone that’s buying health insurance is getting hurt either through high premiums or high deductibles or both. The thing that can’t be ignored is the fact that these people in the individual market are getting hurt because the ACA’s structure is flawed. Had the ACA been built with a high-risk pool, people wouldn’t be suffering through these skyrocketing premiums and unaffordable deductibles.

Finally, it’s time to shove President Obama off the national stage. He’s lying when he said that “Republican criticism has been proven to be false and politically motivated.” President Obama’s statements are spin. President Obama’s statements are politically motivated, too. He’d love to see a Democrat majority in the Senate. He doesn’t want to see his signature ‘accomplishment’ criticized by historians because it’s a total disaster. That would damage his legacy bigtime.

Gov. Dayton apparently hasn’t learned the first rule of holes. By admitting that DFL candidates are getting hurt because he told the truth in saying that the ACA isn’t affordable, he’s essentially admitted that the ACA is terrible policy. He was right the first time. It’s terrible policy.

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Mike Cummins is rightfully upset with DFL Sen. Tony Lourey for a multitude of reasons. The second paragraph to Cummins’ DNT op-ed is a good place to start. Cummins’ first paragraph starts by saying “I’m mad that the health plan I’ve had for over 10 years tripled in price and then got canceled. My daughter, son and I got pushed onto my wife’s plan that she receives from work that now costs half her check each payday. We were sold a bill of goods that turned out to be a lie built on a lie written by incumbent District 11 Sen. Tony Lourey.”

Sen. Lourey is asking for 4 more years to ‘fix’ the mess he and Gov. Dayton enthusiastically created and bragged about. MNsure is a disaster. The DFL is insisting on fixing little things that won’t fix the real problem. The problem is the ACA itself, which requires everyone to buy health insurance and that requires insurance companies to sell policies to people with pre-existing at the same price as they sell policies to young healthy people.

When the ACA was passed, Republicans insisted that the ACA was a disaster waiting to happen. Two weeks ago, Gov. Dayton said that “the Affordable Care Act isn’t affordable to a growing number of Minnesotans.” That was a gaffe in that Gov. Dayton accidentally told the truth.

Sen. Lourey was the chief author of the bill establishing MNsure. He even bragged about it at MNsure’s signing ceremony, saying “The people won on this bill.” I’m totally certain that having the price of health insurance triple in 3 years isn’t how most people would define as the people winning.

All legislators make mistakes. Still, Sen. Lourey’s mistake was especially harmful. First, it hurt lots of families who were satisfied with their health insurance plans. Thanks to the ACA, people who had wonderful health insurance policies couldn’t keep them because they didn’t meet the ACA’s definition of a QHP or Qualified Health Plan. That drove up insurance prices, especially on the individual market.

Next, Sen. Lourey’s bill was an ideological masterpiece. The ACA was about checking off the Holy Grail of liberalism. It wasn’t about solving a problem. Democrats had chased the thought of universal health care literally for a century. It didn’t matter to Sen. Lourey that Minnesota’s system was working beautifully. The DFL’s Holy Grail was what mattered to him.

Now that MNsure is failing just as terribly as the ACA, MNsure is a giant millstone around Sen. Lourey’s neck. Now it’s a matter of whether the voters of Lourey’s district hold him accountable or whether they give him a free pass.

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Stewart Mills’ supporters in the Eighth District should be cautiously optimistic after KSTP announced the results of their latest poll of the district. According to the poll, “Stewart Mills leads Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan by four points in Minnesota’s 8th District, 45 percent to 41 percent, in our exclusive KSTP/SurveyUSA poll. However, a significant number of voters remain undecided, 14 percent, and could swing this election either way.” Stewart Mills’ supporters should be cautiously optimistic because Mills led Nolan by 8 points at this point in 2014 and wound up losing by 3,000+ votes.

This year, the dynamics have changed significantly, though. First, Hillary Clinton is dragging Nolan down. According to KSTP’s poll, “the top of the Democratic ticket, Hillary Clinton, appears to be very unpopular in the 8th District. Our poll shows Republican Donald Trump with a 12-point lead over Clinton, 47 percent to 35 percent.” Stewart Mills is hammering Nolan on that fact in his stump speeches and in his advertising. This ad highlights Mills’ argument beautifully:

Here’s the transcript of the ad:

MILLS: I’m Stewart Mills and I approve this message.
NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton promises to kill mining jobs all across America.
HILLARY CLINTON: We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.
NARRATOR: Here in Minnesota, Rick Nolan is doing the same. Nolan supports Hillary’s war on coal. He voted for anti-mining regulations that are destroying Minnesota jobs and sticking middle class families with higher energy bills. Rick Nolan and Hillary Clinton are job killers.

This is interesting, too:

Nolan might also be facing resistance from voters over his support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and his desire to go even further and implement “universal,” or government-run health care. Our KSTP/SurveyUSA poll indicates 45 percent of those surveyed in the 8th District favor repeal of the ACA, 30 percent say there need to be changes to the program and 13 percent say they favor universal health care.

Gov. Dayton isn’t doing Nolan any favors by switching his position on the ACA seemingly on a daily basis. Each day, Gov. Dayton either talks about the need for a special session or says something provocative or he flip-flops. The point is that Gov. Dayton has kept this story alive for over a week. Here’s what the KSTP/SurveyUSA poll found were the Eighth District’s priorities:

When asked which issue is most important to them when deciding their vote, health care came in as the top choice at 26 percent. Another 25 percent cited terrorism and national security while 13 percent said taxes. Mining came in at six percent, education at 5 percent and foreign trade at four percent.

Last night, Mills and Nolan squared off in a debate. Mills did an effective job of prosecuting his case against Nolan on energy and mining. Approximately 4 minutes into this video, Mills rattles off a series of points against Nolan’s green agenda:

It’s apparent that Mills learned some important lessons from his 2014 campaign. Let’s hope that the results are better this time.

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Sunday morning, DFL Sen. Jeffrey Hayden appeared on WCCO to talk about fixing MNsure. During Esme Murphy’s interview with him, Sen. Hayden said something provocative when he said “This was part of an issue that Sen. Rubio kind of put into the continuing resolution in Washington. That can be repaired and we can kinda help insurers with the cost of health care.”

What Sen. Hayden is talking about is a bill that Sen. Rubio passed several years ago that eliminated what’s best described as the bailout section of the ACA. Democrats knew that insurance companies wouldn’t support the ACA without a provision in the bill that essentially guaranteed the insurance companies annual bailouts essentially forever. ‘Fixing’ that part of the ACA would require Congress to pass legislation that repealed Sen. Rubio’s bailout legislation. That won’t and shouldn’t happen. Period.

Let’s be clear about this. I want the insurance companies making money. That’s essential. What I don’t want is insurance companies showing a profit because of federal bailouts. I want healthy companies, not propped-up companies.

Esme Murphy was right when she said that “This is just a Band-Aid. This would just be a one-year fix that might cost $300,000,000, possibly up to $600,000,000. Going forward, Minnesota legislators are calling on Washington, the Congress, to do a permanent fix. Do you really think that’s going to happen?” Here’s Sen. Hayden’s reply:

Well, elections matter and we’re in an election season. We think if we get the right people in Washington, we certainly can get it done. This was part of an issue that Sen. Rubio kind of put into the continuing resolution in Washington. That can be repaired and we can kinda help insurers with the cost of health care.

Here’s a provocative exchange between Murphy and Sen. Hayden:

SEN. HAYDEN: What we did is we called for a special session to call the GOP to come to the table so we — once again during the legislative session — we had this fix ready to go and they weren’t interested so now that they have come to understand that this is a big issue and they’re hearing from their constituents, we’re saying ‘back to the table.’
MURPHY: You’re hearing from your constituents as well. I mean isn’t this on Democrats? I mean this is your plan.
SEN. HAYDEN: We’re absolutely hearing from our constituents and have been. That’s why we had the 6 provisions with the tax credit as a fix so we were working on the issue but, as you know, we need the Republican House to come forward and even, um, all legislators on all sides need to do.

There’s little chance of a special session to fix MNsure, especially after Sen. Hayden essentially blamed Republicans for the DFL’s mess. You know it’s bad when Esme Murphy blames the Democrats’ plans.

Gov. Dayton made some unsubstantiated accusations against Speaker Daudt in this op-ed. Thankfully, Peter Nelson of the Center for the American Experiment quickly rebutted those accusations in this counterpoint op-ed.

The first false accusation that Gov. Dayton made was when he said “‘Hundred of thousands of Minnesotans’ will NOT see actual health insurance increases of 50 percent or more, because many people, who buy their policies through MNsure, will receive federal tax credits that will significantly lower their costs. They will NOT have to spend hours on the phone with MNsure, because its customer service has improved greatly since a bad beginning.”

Nelson quickly rebutted that accusation, saying “Wrong! The Pioneer Press recently reported on the numbers of people effected by rate increases and found that ‘about 300,000 Minnesotans are in that category, of whom 70,000 buy their plan through the state-run MNsure exchange and 230,000 directly from insurers.’ Thus, the number of Minnesotans effected by rate increases who don’t access tax credits through MNsure does step into ‘hundreds of thousands’ territory.”

It’s clear what’s happened. I wrote about it in this post:

Dayton, who’s been a longtime supporter of the law, began his news conference by saying he regrets that his statement was “wrongly used” that way. He also said he has been in contact with Obama administration officials to offer clarification and additional context. But Dayton said he stands by the statement.

TRANSLATION: After telling the truth, Gov. Dayton got a call from the Obama administration. That call was likely X-rated. It likely consisted of Valerie Jarrett criticizing Gov. Dayton and Gov. Dayton repeatedly saying I’m sorry. It isn’t a stretch to think that the administration had a letter pre-written that they insisted Gov. Dayton submit as his op-ed.

Dayton then claims “rate increases and enrollment caps … are NOT the fault of MNsure.”

Wrong! No one argues MNsure is entirely to blame for the present crisis, but it has certainly played a role. When assigning blame for this mess, Daudt points to both “MNsure and federal mandates that destroyed states’ ability to design an insurance market that meets the needs of its people.”

What is MNsure’s role? For one, MNsure and the state have failed to stop people from gaming the system by signing up for coverage when they get sick or hurt outside the enrollment period. People dropping in and out of coverage based on when they need care substantially drives up rates for everyone else who remains covered.

Then there’s this:

President Obama’s dishonesty is disgusting. The reason why premiums are skyrocketing is because young healthy people have consistently refused to buy health insurance. That means that the only people buying health insurance are the people who use it the most. That guarantees skyrocketing premiums.

President Obama, the Democrats, Gov. Dayton and the DFL forced this legislation on us. The people have spoken with the wallets. Initially, the people who needed insurance bought it while the people who didn’t need it paid a fine rather than buy it. Once that started, it guaranteed significant premium increases.

It’s simple math, actually. Insurance companies needed the premium revenues from young health people to pay for the increased claims from older, less healthy people. This wasn’t just foreseeable. It was predicted!

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The first thing I noticed about the St. Cloud Times’ endorsed school board candidates is that they’re ideologues. They’ve drank the School Board’s Kool-Aid. They each agree that voters must approve the $143,250,000 bonding referendum. These endorsed candidates don’t care that property taxes will skyrocket because of this vote. These endorsed candidates don’t care about the people living in St. Cloud who are living on modest fixed incomes and what those property tax increases will do to their family budgets.

They certainly don’t care that building the new Tech HS isn’t necessary. They don’t care that building the new Tech HS is foolish. They’ve gotten their marching orders and they’re going to do their best to carry those marching orders out.

It’s been reported that the ISD 742 School Board has held listening sessions. That isn’t true. They held gatherings that started with a professionally-produced presentation. It’s indisputable fact that it’s impossible to listen when you’re talking.

The Times’ Editorial Board did their best to spin these candidates’ qualifications but it won’t work. Here’s what they wrote:

Yes, on the surface all four might not seem to offer much diversity. But their answers to written questions from this board, campaign materials, experiences and news coverage about all eight candidacies show they are the best qualified to help lead the district in addressing its many challenges.

It isn’t just the surface that makes it seem like they “might not seem to offer much diversity.” It’s that they’re cookie-cutter DFL/Education Minnesota ideologues who won’t hesitate to raise taxes and rubberstamp Willie Jett’s agenda.

Frankly, the decisions that this board has made have been questionable at best. That’s especially true with the purchase of the land where the proposed new Tech HS is supposed to be located. When they first purchased it, they didn’t bother to determine whether it was fit for building on. It wasn’t. That’s why they had to do a land swap with the City of St. Cloud.

Now these ideologues want us to write them a blank check in the amount of $143,000,000? It isn’t just that I don’t think so. It’s that I’m saying ‘Hell no!‘ to these ideologues. I’ll say that emphatically by voting for just one candidate, John Palmer. Unlike these ideologues, Dr. Palmer won’t hesitate to ask the difficult questions. Unlike these ideologues, Dr. Palmer won’t hesitate in saying no to Education Minnesota’s agenda. Unlike these ideologues, Dr. Palmer will be the taxpayers’ and the students’ watchdog. Unlike these 4 ideologues, Dr. Palmer has earned my vote with his ideas, intelligence and his independence.

Finally, it’s time to tell the School Board that a) they work for us, b) they don’t work for Education Minnesota and/or Willie Jett and c) we aren’t their ATMs.

Thursday, Gov. Dayton apologized for saying that the ACA, aka the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, wasn’t affordable for increasing numbers of Minnesotans. It’s noteworthy that Gov. Dayton didn’t apologize to Minnesotans who buy their health insurance through the individual market. He apologized to DFL politicians who’ve been getting hit hard by constituents. Friday, Gov. Dayton flipped on his flip-flop, saying “Right now, it’s not just raining, it’s pouring on some Minnesotans.

In his letter to DFL candidates, Gov. Dayton wrote “For the 95 percent of Minnesotans who are covered through the Medicaid expansion, MinnesotaCare or through their employer, it’s working. It’s working for the 3 percent who qualify for the federal tax credits through MNsure. But the law isn’t working well for the 2 percent of Minnesotans in the individual market who don’t receive any financial assistance to pay for their coverage.”

This weekend, Gov. Dayton asked President Obama for disaster relief. He didn’t ask for a disaster relief declaration only for the homes that were hit. He asked for a disaster relief declaration for entire counties.

The point is that insurance premiums are expensive for anyone who’s buying through the individual market. That includes the people who are getting federal tax subsidies. The reason why people don’t realize premiums are expensive for everyone is because taxpayers are paying a significant portion of the premiums for those getting federal subsidies.

The ‘other’ thing that Gov. Dayton isn’t being honest about is that premiums are only part of this crisis. Gov. Dayton hasn’t talked about the rising deductibles people pay. Families often have a deductible of $10,000-$13,900. If Gov. Dayton wants to suggest that that’s affordable, then it’s proof he can’t relate to the average family.

Dayton, who’s been a longtime supporter of the law, began his news conference by saying he regrets that his statement was “wrongly used” that way. He also said he has been in contact with Obama administration officials to offer clarification and additional context. But Dayton said he stands by the statement.

Gov. Dayton committed a political gaffe. He accidentally told the truth. I don’t doubt that the Obama administration sought “clarification” on what he said. I don’t doubt it if clarification is the word he’s using instead of ‘getting a lecture’.

Kurt Daudt is stepping up in grade now that he’s taking on President Obama over the ACA. This fight started when Democrats, including DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, said that the ACA wasn’t affordable to an increasing number of people.

President Obama, thin-skinned as always, defended his signature ‘accomplishment’, saying “it’s worked,” but admitted the program wasn’t perfect. “No law is.” Enter Speaker Daudt. Speaker Daudt said “It’s absolutely unaffordable. I don’t even consider that health coverage.” Then Speaker Daudt added “It’s catastrophic.”

Actually, that’s exactly what it is. It’s catastrophic insurance at Cadillac plan rates. That’s verified by the fact that “one Arizona town [saw] a 75 percent hike and another in Minnesota seeing a 190 percent increase in deductibles over the course of four years.” Only an elitist or a politician thinks that’s affordable.

Speaker Daudt is right because the deductible is too high. That’s bad enough. Unfortunately for people who’ve bought through the individual market, that’s just part of the problem. The other part is the skyrocketing health insurance premiums. High deductibles and high premiums equal an unaffordable double whammy for families. Then there’s this:

With some families forced to shell out $2,000 a month for insurance that comes with a whopping $13,000 deductible, Daudt said for some the only option is to pull their coverage and pay a fee for not having insurance, which in 2016 came out to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child (up to a maximum of $2085.)

That isn’t affordable. That’s downright expensive.

This statement from DFL Sen. Tony Lourey is quite telling:

“This is sort of a one-time solution for 2017 to take the sting out of the rates for individuals, but we’ll still be feeling the pressure to find a longer term solution,” Sen. Tony Lourey said.

TRANSLATION: We know it’s bad. We just don’t want to lose the majority because we a) voted for MNsure and b) bragged about how wonderful it would be.

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Sen. Bakk stabbed Gov. Dayton in the back again, this time disagreeing with Gov. Dayton’s statement about the Affordable Care Act not being affordable. Gov. Dayton’s statement was “I’m not trying to pass the buck here but the reality is that the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for an increasing number of people. We’re going to need both state and federal governments to step in and do what they need to do to remedy these problems.”

When asked if he agrees with Gov. Dayton’s statement, Sen. Bakk said that he disagreed, saying “No,” Bakk said when asked if he agreed, then continued “It’s 5 percent of the marketplace. We’ve got some problems in the individual market for people that can’t access the federal tax credit, for people over 400 percent of the poverty line. That’s the cohort where we have a problem. For 95 percent of people and for the people that are able to access the tax credits in the exchange, you know, I think this system is working.”

Essentially, the argument that Sen. Bakk is making is like a carpenter’s argument that the roof is waterproof except for the big hole in it. Saying that 250,000 people who are either getting gigantic premium increases or who can’t afford to buy health insurance isn’t a problem is what a heartless SOB might say in a difficult political situation right before an election. I’d triple-dog dare Sen. Bakk to tell these people that they don’t have a problem.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan famously said that “a recession is when your neighbor is unemployed” and that “a depression is when you’re unemployed”, then finishing by saying “the recovery starts when Jimmy Carter is unemployed.” Applying President Reagan’s principles to this situation is helpful. The Obamacare/individual market problem will get fixed when Sen. Bakk is no longer the Senate Majority Leader. The DFL has spent the last 3 years bragging up the ACA, accusing Republicans who said it wasn’t working well that they were employing political gamesmanship.

With huge premium increases in the individual market and unaffordable deductibles, the DFL’s chickens are coming home to roost. Contrary to Sen. Bakk’s statement, this is a crisis. Gov. Dayton admitted as much in this video:

Of course, Gov. Dayton has reversed course since then, now insisting “‘Hundred of thousands of Minnesotans’ will NOT see actual health insurance increases of 50% or more, because many people, who buy their policies through MNsure, will receive federal tax credits that will significantly lower their costs.”

Which is it, Gov. Dayton? What changed from the time you said that the ACA wasn’t affordable “for an increasing number of people” to the time you wrote that dishonest op-ed? Did you suddenly start thinking that it’s affordable? Did you get pressured by DFL candidates who said that they lost support right after you made that statement? Or are you just that dishonest?

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This article highlights how screwed up the ACA is. First, it’s noteworthy because it’s written by a lefty. Next, it’s noteworthy because the author admits that it’s messed up. It’s impossible to miss Marshall Helmberger’s disgust with the ACA, especially when he says “The el-cheapo UCare bronze plan that my wife Jodi and I bought for 2016 went from $657 a month to $1,221 a month, or $14,652 a year. And that is for an insurance plan with a $13,900 deductible, which means we would need to spend $28,552 before we would see any actual benefit from our insurance, beyond a free wellness visit or two.”

That isn’t affordable. That’s outrageous pricing. What’s worst is that the person is technically insured but this couple can’t afford to use it to get health care. What good is health insurance if you can’t use it?

Helmberger’s disgust with the ACA boiled over again when he said “Now, one of the principles of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be affordability, as you might have guessed. In theory, you were supposed to be able to buy a silver-level plan for about ten percent of your annual income, which to most people would be considered affordable. But the theory isn’t met by reality these days. If you assume a fairly typical household income of $65,000 for two middle-aged (age 55) adults in Minnesota, you would qualify for no subsidy whatsoever under MNsure. At the same time, the cheapest silver plan you can buy in St. Louis County for next year has a monthly premium of $1,477 a month, or $17,724 a year, which would entail 27-percent of that same household’s income. Add in the thousands of dollars in deductibles and co-pays that this same couple would need to cover if they actually utilized any medical services and it easily pushes the actual cost of such a plan to one-third of their household income. That’s not affordable—it’s soul-crushing, and it would prompt most healthy people to abandon their insurance and pay the fine for going uninsured.”

We didn’t experience these type of outrageous premiums when Minnesota’s high-risk pool was in effect. Why didn’t DFL legislators keep that system in place? The DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and then-Speaker Thissen, had the opportunity to display leadership. Instead, they showed they were President Obama’s puppets. Thanks to their unwillingness to lead, Minnesotans are hurting more and more each day.

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