Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

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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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’.

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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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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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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Last week, Gov. Dayton said that the ACA was unaffordable. This week, in Gov. Dayton’s Strib op-ed, he’s insisting that things really aren’t that bad, saying most people “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.”

Gov. Dayton, if these subsidies “significantly lower” health insurance premium costs, why did you insist that the “Affordable Care Act isn’t affordable” anymore? We know you said that because it’s captured in this video:

Gov. Dayton’s most stunning admission in his op-ed is when he said “And while it is true that the Minnesota Department of Commerce finally “approved” the health insurers’ rate increases and enrollment caps, that approval was required to prevent those companies from following Minnesota Blue Cross Blue Shield and major insurers in other states from pulling entirely out of the individual market. Their departures are forcing about 2 million people in 32 other states to also find new coverage.”

That’s admitting that the major insurance companies will pull out of the individual markets if they aren’t granted major premium increases each year! It’s worth noting that Sen. Rubio forced this by getting a bill passed that ended insurance company bailouts. Think about that. President Obama knew that his signature achievement would bankrupt insurance companies if it didn’t have a bailout provision in it.

Compare that with Minnesota prior to Obamacare/MNsure. Minnesota virtually eliminated the uninsured by establishing a high-risk pool in 1976. Thanks to that system, Minnesota’s uninsured rate was a paltry 7.2% in 2007. Last week, I wrote this post, noting that the national uninsured rate was 15.5%.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL enthusiastically passed MNsure when the DFL controlled the legislature and Dayton was the DFL governor. In his op-ed, Gov. Dayton insists he needs an all-DFL legislature:

I ask you to vote for two years with DFL majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate, in order to fulfill my pledge to you: A Better Minnesota.

Minnesotans, the last time we had a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the House and Senate, we got a Senate Office Building for fat-cat politicians and skyrocketing health insurance premiums. Exploding health insurance premiums and a $90,000,000 building for fat-cat politicians isn’t taking us in the right direction. I’m betting people think that that’s taking Minnesota in the wrong direction.

Finally, Gov. Dayton, if things aren’t that bad, why are you, Rep. Thissen and Commissioner Rothman calling this a crisis?

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It’s a certainty that Paul Thissen will either lie outright or, at minimum, exaggerate when talking about MNsure. Thissen’s op-ed in the Winona newspaper contains such an exaggeration.

In Thissen’s op-ed, the leader of the DFL in the House said “One of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act forbids insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. This has helped dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans, which means fewer uninsured Minnesotans are receiving care in emergency rooms — the most expensive form of health care (which is paid for by all of us).”

Actually, the ACA didn’t help “dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans” because Minnesota already had a great system for insuring people with PECs. It was called MCHA, aka the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association. MCHA was eliminated when MNsure was created. MCHA was a high-risk pool that took in people who had applied for health insurance but were rejected because they had a pre-existing condition. It was a guaranteed issue plan.

As a result of MCHA, Minnesota’s uninsured rate in 2007 was 7.2%. In 2012, Minnesota’s uninsured rate had dropped to 5%. It’s impossible to honestly say that the ACA helped “dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans” when the number of Minnesotans who were uninsured was microscopic. If Rep. Thissen had been honest, he would’ve said it marginally helped “reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans” but that isn’t how Rep. Thissen operates. It’s all exaggeration all the time with Rep. Thissen.

Here’s something else that Rep. Thissen said that’s false:

But a consequence has been more high-cost patients in the individual market, many more than insurers anticipated. Additionally, the cost of health care continues to rise. The escalating price of prescription drugs and other procedures is driving up the cost of health care for everyone, whether they are on the individual market or receiving insurance through their employer.

That isn’t true. Republicans predicted this exact scenario. They predicted that young people wouldn’t sign up for health insurance because it was too expensive. Republicans predicted that the people who signed up were people who had the biggest health issues. They were right.

Rep. Thissen is right that “prescription drugs and other procedures is driving up the cost of health care for everyone” but that was true prior to the ACA. The premium spikes in the individual market are directly attributable to the ratio of people who use health insurance a lot and the people who don’t use it often.

Obama, Gov. Dayton and the DFL needed lots of young healthy people to buy insurance. They didn’t. They were threatened with fines and the young people said ‘no thanks.’ The DFL tried enticing them with subsidies. Young people still said no thanks. A product must be terrible when people won’t buy it even when the government holds a gun to their heads. This paragraph is especially infuriating:

Second, we must stabilize the individual market. Scrapping MNsure entirely, as Republicans have favored, would not solve the underlying instability of the individual market. Rather, we should consider Minnesota-driven solutions. For example, to reduce costs we could spread the cost of the sickest Minnesotans across a larger group of Minnesotans through a reinsurance fund. We could also improve competition and choice by allowing Minnesotans to purchase insurance directly through MinnesotaCare regardless of income. It would be naïve to say this is an easy problem to solve. We should work together as Democrats and Republicans to solve it.

At the time that MNsure was created, Republicans tried getting the DFL to not eliminate MCHA. The DFL didn’t listen. Now that there’s a crisis that threatens the DFL’s stranglehold on St. Paul, Rep. Thissen is praising the reinsurance plan.

Democrats will always do the right thing — when it’s the only option left. Even so, lots of DFL legislators, including Zach Dorholt and John Marty, are pushing single-payer health insurance. Simply put, the DFL can’t be trusted to do the right thing with health insurance.

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The first sign that Obamacare was a disaster was Gov. Dayton admitting that it wasn’t affordable anymore, which I wrote about here. That’s the type of thing people don’t expect from Obamacare’s biggest cheerleader right before the election. The explanation is that it’s so obvious to everyone that Gov. Dayton didn’t have a choice in the matter.

The DFL’s political problem is tied directly to the DFL’s ideological problem, namely that the DFL’s quest for a single-payer system is thwarted by Minnesota’s history of having one of the highest insured rates in the nation. This 2008 report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government and New York State Health Foundation shows how efficient Minnesota was in insuring its people.

The key paragraph in the report states “According to data from the March Supplement of the Current Population Survey, Minnesota’s rate of uninsurance was 8.6% for 2005/2006, lower than the national insurance rate of 15.5%. (During the same time, New York’s uninsurance rate fell in between at 13.5%.) A very recent state survey on health insurance coverage in Minnesota found that the uninsurance rate in 2007 was 7.2%, which remained statistically unchanged from 2004 (7.7%), when the state survey was last conducted.”

In other words, 92.8% of Minnesotans were insured before then-Sen. Obama was even elected. What’s more is that 50% of those who were uninsured were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance of one sort or another. When you add those figures up, 96.4% of Minnesotans were either insured or were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized insurance.

Summarizing, that meant the DFL demolished a system that insured virtually everyone and replaced it with a system that’s raised premiums by 30%-67% annually while virtually not increasing the percentage of insured Minnesotans. Ed Morrissey nails it with this commentary:

Democrats have recently taken to whining that Republicans refuse to act to save ObamaCare, but Democrats keep forgetting that they passed this all on their own at the national level, too. Republicans warned repeatedly of the outcomes we now see from the ACA, while Democrats insisted that it would all run perfectly well and that critics were just scaremongers looking to score partisan points. Now they want Republicans to come to their rescue, rather than agree to scrap the program and start over.

This is video of Gov. Dayton admitting what Republicans have said from the start:

During his interview with WCCO, Speaker Kurt Daudt didn’t attempt to tell Gov. Dayton ‘I told you so’ or rub Gov Dayton’s nose in it. Rather, he said that it’s time for Republican and DFL legislators to work together to fix this crisis. That’s exactly the right approach, especially considering the fact that Gov. Dayton still has 2 years left in office.

Finally, it isn’t a stretch to think that whoever is elected president will have to address this immediately. State-run exchanges are dropping like flies. Insurance premiums are skyrocketing. Thanks to Sen. Rubio’s bill, the insurance company bailouts have been stopped permanently. Without the bailouts, the next president won’t have any wiggle room. That president will have to negotiate in good faith or the American people, mostly in small businesses will turn on him or, God forbid, her.

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Saying that this election isn’t like most elections is understatement on steroids. I thought I’d seen everything but I haven’t. Piers Morgan’s op-ed is spot on, which is something that I never thought I’d say.

Then again, I didn’t think I’d hear Piers Morgan say “Yet despite this unprecedented bombardment of mainstream abuse, Trump’s poll numbers keep rising and his chances of becoming President keep increasing. The reason, to me, is obvious: tens of millions of Americans just don’t agree with that withering verdict. They think Trump’s a fiery, flamboyant, super-rich, shoot-from-the-hip buccaneer on a mission to make America great again. They agree with him about illegal immigration, about big Government corruption, about Wall Street greed, about ‘crooked’ Hillary Clinton and most pertinently, about the threat of Islamic terrorism.”

This is an election of opposing factions. That’s indisputable in my estimation. One faction a) is complacent, b) believes in the status quo and c) thinks we’re in a narrative fight with ISIS:

It’s frightening to think that there’s videotape proof that the White House Press Secretary actually said it’s a narrative war and that we’re winning that fight. What’s almost as frightening is that the DC media criticized Donald Trump for calling the bomb that went off in New York City a bomb. What’s almost as frightening is that they didn’t post a single tweet when Mrs. Clinton also called Saturday night’s attack in New York City a bombing.

The reason why people are warming up to Mr. Trump is because he isn’t afraid to call a pressure cooker bomb explosion a bombing. Millennials immediately identified that pressure cooker bomb as a bomb. Then they saw Mrs. Clinton tap dance her way through her solution. I can picture millennials scratching their heads when they heard Mrs. Clinton say “We should also launch an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out.”

Meanwhile, Trump isn’t afraid to take a little heat to tell people that we can’t keep importing terrorists through the State Department’s refugee resettlement program. It’s like the first rule of holes; if you’re in one, stop digging.

We know that there are refugees here who have gotten radicalized. We know this because, in Minnesota, 3 Somali refugees were convicted of “ISIS-related terrorism charges.” Another 6 Somali refugees accepted plea deals on essentially the same charges.

With acts of terrorism accelerating both internationally and here at home, it isn’t surprising that people are flocking to Donald Trump. They don’t agree with all of Trump’s solutions but they definitely appreciate the fact that he’s willing to call a terrorist attack a terrorist attack, a terrorist a terrorist and an exploded pressure cooker bomb a bombing.

This is where Morgan delivered the kill shot to Mrs. Clinton:

But what neither she nor Obama offers the American people is any kind of plan to combat such attacks. They talk of how awful it all is, but studiously avoid advocating any real action for fear of upsetting or offending people.

The President doesn’t even like using the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’, which is utterly absurd given that’s plainly what it is. In the face of such apparently weak, insipid, mealy-mouthed and frankly meaningless rhetoric, it’s hardly surprising that Trump emerges as a non-PC, no-nonsense voice of reason to many Americans.

Another way of putting it is that Americans want a leader. Mrs. Clinton isn’t a leader. She’s too cautious to be a leader.

The thing that’s selling Trump to the American people is that he’s speaking their language to them. He isn’t tap-dancing his way through a politically correct word salad to not offend someone. If Trump wins, something that’s still in doubt, I think it’ll be because the American people chose a leader.

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When Gov. Dayton spoke at the Democratic National Convention, he issued a threat. He essentially said that, under Hillary Clinton, the government would seize control of insurance companies, saying “It’s time we decided once and for all that the purpose of health insurance is to give Americans the health care they need at prices they can afford, not to pad the profits of corporate America. If they won’t do it, we will, and Hillary Clinton will lead the charge.”

First, the thought that the ACA, aka Obamacare, is making health care more affordable is BS. Tell that to the people who have fewer options, higher premiums and skyrocketing deductibles. In Minnesota, Obamacare actually ruined a good system.’

Further, it’s worrisome that government, not people, should have the right to tell companies how much is the right amount of profit for their companies. This is what happens when elitists and collectivists run government. They think that they know best so they should set prices, not the people.

Third, Gov. Dayton talked out of both sides of his mouth when he said “Thanks to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, we’ve made a lot of progress getting people covered. But for too many families, out-of-pocket costs are still too high.” Which is it, Gov. Dayton? You can’t say that we’re making progress when “out-of-pocket costs” are skyrocketing out of control.

When insurance companies are opting out of the ACA’s individual markets because their costs are high, that isn’t making progress. That’s going backwards. Going backwards, though, is something that Gov. Dayton is used to. Watch Gov. Dayton’s speech here:

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