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Republicans and the DFL found a way to compromise this week. Republicans accepted Gov. Dayton’s plan to provide premium relief for people buying health insurance on the individual market but made too much to qualify for federal premium support. Gov. Dayton accepted the Republicans’ reforms. In the end, neither side got everything they wanted, which was anticipated, but everyone got something that they wanted.

Shortly after the House passed the conference committee report by a vote of 108-19, Republicans issued a statement, saying that their bill allowed “for-profit HMOs to operate in Minnesota (like most states) which will increase options for consumers, modifying stop loss coverage to make it easier for more small businesses to offer affordable insurance to their employees, providing greater transparency for proposed insurance premium changes by requiring earlier disclosure of proposed rates, allowing Agricultural Cooperatives to offer group health insurance to their members so farmers and their families can get better access to care and more affordable coverage, ensuring Minnesota employees can benefit from the recently passed federal 21st Century Cures Act which allows employers to make pre-tax contributions toward employee health insurance costs, network adequacy reform that will assist in ensuring more options for residents in rural Minnesota while prohibiting surprise billing to protect consumers from previously undisclosed costs.”

The Senate voted 46-19 in favor of the bill.

DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin issued this statement:

Today, we saw compromise prevail. After working with Gov. Dayton, the House and Senate passed a bipartisan solution to the current health insurance premium crisis. Although the bill is nowhere near perfect, this compromise helps Minnesotans now and keeps the door open for Minnesotans’ input on further health care reforms in the future.

Minnesotans could have seen relief 3 months ago but Republicans in the legislature wanted to get something out of the deal for themselves. Instead of working to get more to help Minnesota’s families, they showed their true colors and prioritized big corporations and big profits.

While I am pleased that our legislature was able to pass this relief that so many Minnesotans are counting on, I hope that for the rest of the legislative session, Republicans remember that Minnesotans are expecting their legislature to work for them, not against them.

Earlier this week, Gov. Dayton proposed a ‘reform’ that would inflict single-payer health care on Minnesotans. That bill is all but officially dead despite Martin’s statement that this compromise “keeps the door open for Minnesotans’ input on further health care reforms in the future.”

As for Martin’s whining statement that “Minnesotans could have seen relief 3 months ago but Republicans in the legislature wanted to get something out of the deal for themselves”, the truth is that Gov. Dayton insisted that the bill not include any reforms. Gov. Dayton insisted that it just provide premium relief. Republicans insisted that there be substantive reforms because, without them, they’d be right back here next year with another bailout.

Today’s bill is a first step in a session-long effort to address the problems created by Obamacare and MNsure,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “As the first month of session comes to a close, Republican majorities have shown an ability to get things done for Minnesotans and to work productively with the governor.”

Gov. Dayton will sign the bill.

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Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka should reject Gov. Dayton’s proposal to ‘reform’ health care by going to a single-payer plan. The article starts by saying “A new form of health insurance could be available next year to Minnesotans in the individual health insurance market if a proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton gains approval of state legislators and the federal government.”

While that excites hardline progressives, aka socialists, like John Marty, the vast majority of legislators (including Democrats) will reject single-payer health care. That’s because it’s failed each time it’s been tried. Mssrs. Daudt and Gazelka should investigate the numbers that Gov. Dayton is pushing because they aren’t credible. According to the article, “The new public option would be available to most Minnesotans for an average price of $469 per month, about 12 percent less than the $538 monthly premium for private insurance in 2017, the Dayton administration said. Dayton’s office estimates the plan would save families an average of more than $800 per person annually in 2018 compared to 2017.”

The chances that those numbers are accurate are virtually nonexistent. Let’s understand that these figures come from the party that insisted that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

Further, let’s understand that Gov. Dayton’s goal is to prop up a failed government program by proposing another big government ‘solution’. As I’ve said before, single-payer either fails outright wherever it’s tried or it dramatically reduces health care options.

Then there’s this:

Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, applauded the governor’s public option plan. “Access to quality, affordable health care is the benchmark for success, and this is exactly what Minnesotans will get with this expansion,” he said. “Passage of this plan would restore comprehensive networks in rural Minnesota, and give hope to many Minnesotans who are struggling to keep up with health insurance costs.”

At the bill-signing ceremony for MNsure, Sen. Lourey saidThe people won on this bill.” Considering how much pain MNsure has caused, should we think that Sen. Lourey’s opinion isn’t worthless? I certainly don’t think it’s worth anything. Watch this video before forming an opinion on whether Sen. Lourey is a legitimate health care expert or a political shill:

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Gov. Dayton collapsed during the opening minutes of his State of the State Address. Don Davis has written that “Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed during his State of the State speech Monday night, Jan. 23, but after a few minutes walked away with help. An hour later, he was playing a puzzle with his grandson at his official state residence. ‘He quickly recovered, walked out of the Capitol, and returned home,’ his chief of staff, Jaime Tincher, said an hour and a half after the incident. ‘EMTs joined the governor there and performed a routine check. He is now spending time with his son and grandson.'”

House Speaker Kurt Daudt issued a statement, saying “Governor Dayton is in my thoughts and prayers tonight. I was encouraged to see him walk from the House Chamber on his own and I join Minnesotans in wishing him a speedy recovery.”

I didn’t watch the State of the State tonight but I saw the video. Saying that it was frightening is understatement. As you’ll see in the video, Gov. Dayton took a sip of water before resuming talking. When he returned to his speech, Gov. Dayton slurred his words before leaning forward in pain, then collapsing:

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said “when things like this happen, we’re really all here just praying for the governor. We’re all one Minnesota in things like this. We care for each other. That’s our whole focus right now, period, is praying for our governor.”

Here’s wishing Gov. Dayton a full and speedy recovery.

Tina Liebling’s most recent e-letter update is a portrait of the DFL’s hysteria. I first noticed Rep. Liebling’s hysteria when I spotted this hysterical tweet, which said “House GOP passed plan to let insurance companies sell junk insurance w/o coverage for things like cancer, Lyme disease, autism.”

Rep. Liebling didn’t like it when I challenged her by saying “We’ll determine what’s junk & what isn’t if you don’t mind. Your record of predicting what’s good for us isn’t exactly inspiring.” Rep. Liebling’s reply to my initial tweet said “If you get cancer and your insurance policy doesn’t cover cancer, it’s junk.” I followed that up by saying “Why think that people, consulting with their physicians, can’t figure this out? Catastrophic policies are great for young people. Your thinking seems based on the theory that people can’t figure these things out. Shame on you for thinking that!”

Rep. Liebling’s I-know-what’s-best-for-you thinking continued in her e-letter update:

Republican legislators are also taking the opportunity to help corporate insurance companies. They are proposing sweeping and risky changes to the insurance system–including allowing for-profit health insurance companies to operate in Minnesota. Changes to the insurance system could potentially cause even more instability and rate increases next year, but the GOP in both House and Senate have rushed them through committees. They refuse to pass relief for consumers without their other proposals. This is holding hostage the over 100,000 Minnesotans who need insurance in place before the end of open enrollment–January 31.

Republican legislators have said that they’re tying reforms to the relief because they don’t want to have to revisit this DFL-created crisis next year. This is what Speaker Daudt said in this statement:

“Our plan provides emergency premium aid while preserving access for life-saving care for thousands of Minnesotans struggling under the effects of Obamacare,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “Minnesotans know we need to start fixing this problem now so we don’t find ourselves in the same situation next year. Republicans have and will continue to lead on this issue and offer concrete solutions to fix the health care mess Democrats created.”

It’s clear that Rep. Liebling just wants to spend money without fixing this crisis. Speaker Daudt has put a higher priority on fixing this DFL-created crisis.

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John Croman’s article reads like a DFL propaganda piece. That’s mostly because that’s what it is. The article starts by saying “Minnesota’s top budget official warned Monday that the Republican health insurance premium relief plan will significantly delay aid payments to those facing sharp increases in 2017. Commissioner Myron Frans, who heads the Minnesota Management and Budget department, said the rebate program envisioned in the GOP legislation would required creating an apparatus to receive and vet applications for aid, which could involve hiring an additional 100 staff in his agency. ‘Our first take is that this is going to cost a lot of money and it’s going to take a lot of time. And if we’re going to go down that road it’s going to make it very difficult to get this implemented in 2017,’ Commissioner Frans told reporters.”

My first question for Commissioner Frans would be why this wouldn’t apply to Gov. Dayton’s plan. Wouldn’t they need to verify that applicants’ income is truthful? Or would Gov. Dayton’s system run on the honor system?

The Republican plan, by contrast, calls for people to apply to the state for aid. The state would review the applications and issue State checks directly to the insurance customers. The Legislative Auditor would conduct the audits, if this plan passes and is signed into law.

I don’t know that that’s true but let’s stipulate that it is for this conversation. Couldn’t the DFL offer an amendment to change that part of the legislation?

The main question that hasn’t gotten asked is why Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t offered a plan to fix all the things that are wrong with Minnesota’s Obamacare health care system. Why haven’t the media asked Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk or Rep. Hortman where their comprehensive health care reform legislation is?

Does the Twin Cities media think, like Gov. Dayton and the DFL, that these skyrocketing health insurance premiums are a one-time thing? If they aren’t a one-time thing but are caused by systemic flaws, why haven’t the DFL written legislation that would fix that situation?

Commissioner Frans can complain all he wants about not getting the rebate fixed but the truth is that Minnesotans are worried about other parts of Minnesota’s health care system. Further, if Gov. Dayton vetoes premium relief, the DFL will wear that like a cement block during the 2018 campaign.

Anders Koskinen’s article on Gov. Dayton’s tax ‘relief’ bill is enlightening in that it proves that Gov. Dayton still hasn’t learned that sending money to cities and counties doesn’t shrink families’ tax burdens. It just adds to those cities’ and counties’ spending.

The key part of Koskinen’s article is where he writes “the proposal ends up seeing the state spending $1.60 in subsidies for every dollar of direct tax relief. Dayton’s proposal includes $21 million in middle class tax cuts, $61 million of child care tax credits, and $34 million of property tax credits for farmers. A further $186 million, however, is a series of subsidies.”

Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith adds “Our tax bill would provide significant relief to farmers by buying down the cost of local school district levies. I urge the Legislature to provide this needed tax relief for Minnesota farm families this session. In 2013, the DFL majorities in the House and Senate passed a bill with the same promises. It failed miserably. I wrote about those failures in this post and this post.

Despite all the DFL’s claims, property taxes skyrocketed anyway. While it isn’t shocking, it’s more than a little disgusting.

The DFL theory is that sending money to cities and counties should reduce the need for raising taxes. The reality is that it increases cities’ and counties’ spending. That’s been proven repeatedly. That’s why I called the DFL’s tax relief proposal a theory. It certainly isn’t verifiable fact.

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I’m getting tired of having to factcheck professional ‘factcheckers’. The worst ‘factchecker’ is Politifact but others are ‘gaining ground’ on them. Shortly after my computer returned from the shop, I saw this factcheck, which is critical of Donald Trump’s tweets about the ACA.

In Factcheck’s article, they cite this tweet from Gov. Dayton where he said “The ACA has provided quality healthcare to +20M Americans. Its problems could’ve been corrected if GOP had tried to improve, not destroy it.” That’s a myth that’s being peddled by Democrats in their propaganda battle to prevent the repeal of the ACA.

Betsey McCaughey, one of the foremost experts on health care, highlighted the reality in an op-ed that I wrote about in this post. McCaughey explained “Will 20 million lose coverage? Not even close. Sixteen million of those who gained coverage are enrolled in Medicaid, the public program for low-income residents. Obamacare allowed states to expand who could sign up for Medicaid, with the federal government covering the tab. Repeal could result in less federal funding. But no one is pushing to abolish the nation’s health safety net. And states that just expanded Medicaid are unlikely to do a 180 and shrink it. The 16 million are likely safe.”

Any factchecking organization that doesn’t do basic research like that isn’t trustworthy. That doesn’t mean that they might not occasionally stumble into the truth. I’m just saying they can’t be relied on to consistently be accurate factcheckers. Finally, factchecking tweets, then saying that they pulled quotes “on ACA Out of Context” is a bit absurd. It’s impossible to provide detailed context in 140 characters.

Here’s the transcript of what Gov. Dayton said about the ACA:

Gov. Dayton insists that Republicans took him out of context but here’s what he said:

But ultimately, I’m not trying to pass the buck here, but the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people. And Congress, which has been totally deadlocked in terms of making any necessary changes or improvements, is going to have to step into this in January with the next administration, and make the kind of changes such as, if … the federal government [provided] for catastrophic health care occurrences – you’d bring the rates down very significantly. …

And the subsidies that the federal government provides, the tax credits, are going to need to be increased and expanded to, again, reduce the cost burden on those who are buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

So I mean, there are a number of things that need to be done, federal, and there are some things we can do at the state. But the magnitude of this problem, Minnesota is not alone in this. There are many other states that have experienced significant increases, our increases are higher on a percentage basis because our base rates were lower, previously – but still very drastic increases and there are other states where providers, like in our case Blue Cross Blue Shield, have left the market entirely.

In other words, the ACA is affordable … if the federal government provides massive subsidies to 90% of the people. Gov. Dayton later said that “there are a number of things that need to be done.” That’s proof that President-Elect Trump’s tweet didn’t mislead with Gov. Dayton’s statement.

To: Speaker Daudt, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka
From: Gary Gross, uppity peasant
Subject: Health insurance premium relief

Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, I’m sure you’re well aware of Gov. Dayton’s insistence that you pass his health insurance premium relief plan, aka passing his wimpy political relief proposal. According to this article, he wants you to pass his wimpy proposal virtually immediately.

As a loyal conservative activist, it pains me to say this. I’m asking you to follow his direction (with an asterisk.) I know that the GOP plan includes premium relief. I know that the GOP legislation isn’t the same as Gov. Dayton’s wimpy proposal. (Thank God for major miracles, right?)

Please pass the GOP legislation ASAP, then send it to his desk. When it’s passed, I’d recommend that you hold a major press conference right at 6:00 pm CT that night so that each of the Twin Cities TV stations is forced to cover the press conference/celebration announcement. Also, circulate this comparison table to the media:

Highlight to Minnesotans that the GOP legislation that you’ve passed in the opening days of the regular session includes extensive premium relief that Gov. Dayton insists get passed. Then highlight for Minnesotans that it also includes plans to improve access to care, competition & choice and make provider networks more family friendly.

Dare Gov. Dayton to veto your legislation. Dare him to explain why he didn’t work with you on these issues that would improve Minnesotans’ lives. Dare him to explain why he vetoed a bill that’s attracted significant bipartisan support.

Highlight to Minnesotans that you’re fighting for them. Highlight to Minnesotans that Gov. Dayton’s fighting for … well, who knows what he’s fighting for these days.

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It isn’t a secret that there’s a major fight looming between Gov. Dayton and Republican leadership on the issue of health care. I’ve written about the difference in the details between Gov. Dayton’s proposal and the Republicans’ proposal before. (Here’s one of the posts.) Saying that the difference between Gov. Dayton’s proposal and the Republicans’ plan is significant is understatement. Honestly, this article doesn’t outline the differences.

The third paragraph says “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he wants to see the Legislature immediately pass his plan, which would provide a 25 percent rebate for people who wouldn’t be able to get other help with their surging premiums. About 121,000 Minnesotans are facing steep health insurance premium hikes, but make too much to qualify for federal tax credits.”

What’s needed to do this debate justice is a side-by-side comparison of the competing plans. Actually, it isn’t fair to call Gov. Dayton’s proposal a plan when compared with the Republicans’ plan. This graphic is worth thousands of DFL words:

The first question that people should ask Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislators is this: why doesn’t your plan fix all the things that are broken with the MNsure/ACA system? The other question that I’d ask is this: If you aren’t going to make a substantive counterproposal, why aren’t you supporting the Republicans’ comprehensive proposal? Is it that you think rural Minnesotans have too much access to health care? Are rural Minnesotans’ networks too robust?

Unfortunately, it’s clear that Gov. Dayton is digging in his heals on MNsure/ACA because, in his mind, reforming it would hurt his legacy. Isn’t it time for him to, just once, do the right thing for rural Minnesotans?

Minnesotans rejected Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s agenda this past November. They want to move in a different direction. (More on that in a future post.) They aren’t happy with the direction Gov. Dayton and the DFL have taken Minnesota in.

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Gov. Dayton is the gift that keeps giving fantastic quotes to Minnesota’s bloggers. This article provides another such gift.

The second paragraph of the article says “In an interview with The Associated Press, Dayton said he expects Twin Metals Minnesota and its supporters to try their hardest to persuade President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to reverse the Obama administration’s decision this month not to renew the federal mineral rights leases needed for the underground mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely in northeastern Minnesota.”

The third paragraph continues by quoting Gov. Dayton as saying “I don’t think it’s ever dead. It’s stymied at present. And if the Trump administration doesn’t intervene and override what President Obama has decided, it’s not going to go forward.”

That’s pretty amazing considering what Gov. Dayton said about Twin Metals last March:

If Gov. Dayton thinks that killing the project is the same as it being stymied, then I might buy into this fantasy. Otherwise, I’d recommend that his staff buy him a dictionary. If he isn’t interested in using the dictionary, then I’d simply tell him to start telling the truth.

Thus far, he hasn’t done a good job with that.

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