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On a trip to Albert Lea this weekend, GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden called Obamacare “a train that continues to wreck“:

“The biggest lie of all from the president and Sen. Franken is that this would make health care more affordable,” McFadden said.

With this week’s announcement that provider PreferredOne will depart from MNsure, he said costs are only expected to rise even more. He said Preferred One provided 60 percent of the premiums for MNsure. “This is not the Affordable Care Act,” McFadden said. “This is the Unaffordable Care Act.”

The DFL will cite people who now have insurance thanks to Obamacare. The reality is that many of those people were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized coverage but didn’t sign up for it. In 2012, 93% of Minnesotans were insured. Of those that weren’t, over 50% of them were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. That means 96%-96.5% of Minnesotans were insured or eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance.

That’s back in the days before MNsure made it infinitely more difficult to apply for insurance. Let’s remember, too, that PreferredOne didn’t get entirely out of the individual market. They just got out of the individual market that runs through MNsure:

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says. “We feel continuing on MNsure was not sustainable and believe this is an important step to best serve all PreferredOne members.”

In other words, MNsure, aka Obamacare in Minnesota, was so totally messed up that PreferredOne said dealing with MNsure wasn’t “administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

McFadden said he has heard from residents who have seen 50 percent proposed increases in their health insurance premiums for next year and other small business owners who have said they can’t afford the increases.

Unfortunately, these people aren’t alone. Altogether too many of them are getting hit with higher insurance premiums than they got hit with before Obamacare:

This morning, in an exclusive interview with Examiner.com, Plombon went into detail about what’s happening with insurance premiums. What Mr. Plombon said is that some people who get their insurance through the small group market are renewing their policies. Thus far, Advantage 1 has seen these clients’ premiums increase from as ‘little’ as 30% to as much as 106%.

This isn’t a hypothetical situation. It’s a report from a guy who deals with health insurance for a living.

Mike McFadden is right. Obamacare isn’t about affordable care. In Minnesota, it’s easily proven as a significant step backwards.

Thanks for voting for Obamacare, Al.

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If this article is accurate, then the DFL is flirting with another MNsure disaster. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Is your baby married? It’s a ridiculous question. But if you just had a baby and went to MNsure to update your family status, the health exchange website may ask you anyway.

Agents wouldn’t ask this question because they know better. Thanks to the MNsure world of assinine questions and unreliable manual workarounds, parents will get annoyed when they’re asked this question. If only that was MNsure’s only problem. But I digress. Back to MNsure’s failures:

One example: It used to take five minutes to add a baby to a plan under Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s version of Medicaid, but now that Medical Assistance runs through MNsure it takes about 45 minutes and “you have to say whether or not a baby is married,” said Dakota County director of employment and economic assistance Marti Fischbach, who helps clients sign up for plans.

This isn’t gossip. It’s a quote from someone who works with MNsure on a daily basis. Based on this quote, it sounds like the question gets asked of each parent changing their status. This is understatement:

MNsure Chief Operating Officer Katie Burns on Wednesday admitted there are still major problems with entering life event changes. Much of the work is not automated and data must be entered manually, she told the MNsure board. “It’s much more cumbersome right now than ideally it needs to be over the longer term,” she said.

That’s world class spin. In the real world, Ms. Burns would’ve said that the process sucks. Technorati: , , , , , , ,

This morning’s startling news that PreferredOne dropped out of MNsure is the latest in a lengthy litany of problems MNsure has dealt with since its rollout. First, there were the mismanagement issues that State Sen. Michelle Benson highlighted. Then there was Jim Nobles’ announcement that the Office of Legislative Auditor would audit MNsure. After that, WCCO’s Pat Kessler reported that MNsure executives lied to him.

Like I said, it’s a lengthy list of problems. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, that lengthy list isn’t even close to being a comprehensive list. I could double that list and still not have a comprehensive list of MNsure’s problems. It’s that big of a disaster.

This afternoon, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum. Zach Dorholt put his foot in his mouth when he said “This is a huge change. You can’t have change without anxiety.”

Rep. Dorholt, these aren’t growing pains. They’re ongoing problems that can’t be fixed in the next couple years. This isn’t a bump in the road. They’re a Humvee-sized pothole. In fact, they’re a Humvee-sized pothole that you voted to create.

Thanks to the misadministration of MNsure, PreferredOne is pulling out of MNsure. Since PreferredOne had the lowest premiums in MNsure, that likely means the price increase in health insurance premiums will likely go up much higher than before PreferredOne’s announcement.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL, Rep. Dorholt included, owns this disaster. Every vote for final passage of the bill creating MNsure came from Democrats. Republicans refused to vote for it because they knew it’d be an unmitigated disaster.

The website still isn’t working. Health insurance premiums are going up. Provider networks are getting smaller. Things that once took minutes now take months to do. That’s what an unmitigated disaster looks like.

Finally, now that one health insurance provider has dropped out of MNsure, it’s more likely that another provider will follow PreferredOne’s path. PreferredOne essentially said that they can’t make money through MNsure. Why wouldn’t others follow PreferredOne’s lead?

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Mark Dayton’s explanation for why PreferredOne is leaving MNsure is stunning:

Gov. Mark Dayton says a key provider’s decision to drop out of the state-run health exchange is competition in action.

Gov. Dayton either doesn’t understand free market capitalism or he’s doing his best to hide the fact that MNsure is a failure. The other possibility is that he’s hiding the fact that MNsure is a failure and he doesn’t understand free market capitalism.

PreferredOne’s decision was based on MNsure’s problems:

“PreferredOne Spokesman Steve Peterson tells Hauser this is “purely a business decision.” He says the company decided continuing to offer insurance through MNsure is “not administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says.

Competition didn’t drive PreferredOne from the market. MNsure’s administrative requirements drove PreferredOne’s decision. PreferredOne’s decision was also driven by the fact that government regulations made it virtually impossible for them to make a profit. Why would a company volunteer to do tons of work and not get paid for that work?

Dayton says the company gained market share due to its low rates.

PreferredOne dropped out because it’s impossible to continue to offer those low rates. That means rates will increase this fall.

When it comes to public embarassments, Mark Dayton wrote the book on the subject. Now he’s calling Adrian Peterson’s behavior embarassing:

It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty.” However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.

However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.

Like many of his worst moments, Gov. Dayton’s statement will give thoughtful people intellectual whiplash. First, he says that Adrian Peterson is entitled to due process and “should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.'” Next, Gov. Dayton said that the Vikings should suspend him until he’s had his day in court.

That doesn’t make sense. What happens if Peterson is found guilty? At that point, the NFL has the right, under its personal conduct policy, to tack on an additional suspension. That additional suspension might be indefinite, meaning Adrian Peterson will have been suspended twice for a single offense.

Actually, that might not be legal because of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association. If that’s the case, Gov. Dayton might’ve just told the Vikings to ignore the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.

I don’t doubt that Mark Dayton will react by saying that he didn’t know about the particulars of the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement. That’s shameful. This was a prepared statement. His staff should’ve done their research. They should’ve known about this provision in the NFL-NFLPA CBA.

The governor of a state should known what he’s talking about. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton hasn’t done what smart governors have done. He’s shot his mouth off for political purposes, only to have to walk his statements back.

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This article will certainly impact the governor’s race in addition to impacting health insurance prices and health care networks:

Golden Valley-based PreferredOne Health Insurance just notified MNsure and the Minnesota Department of Commerce of their decision through a letter. Sources tell KSTP’s Tom Hauser that MNsure CEO Scott Leitz was notified by phone Tuesday morning.

PreferredOne Spokesman Steve Peterson tells Hauser this is “purely a business decision.” He says the company decided continuing to offer insurance through MNsure is “not administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says. “We feel continuing on MNsure was not sustainable and believe this is an important step to best serve all PreferredOne members.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is damning information, too:

The company also says MNsure was unable to effectively verify information submitted by enrollees, but insurance companies are still required to accept and enroll them. As a result, the company ended up with enrollees who don’t even live in Minnesota in some cases.

That’s damning because it says MNsure still can’t provide health insurance companies verified information. That says MNsure is still winging it.

That’s a damning indictment against Gov. Dayton, the DFL and MNsure. This was supposed to be Gov. Dayton’s signature accomplishment. This morning’s news is turning MNsure into Gov. Dayton’s biggest failure. MNsure’s latest calamity is an indictment against the DFL legislature, too. They bought into Obamacare lock, stock and barrel because their ideology told them this was a great idea.

PreferredOne disagrees with Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL legislature’s decision. Apparently, MNsure is, in PreferredOne’s opinion, a disaster waiting to happen.

As of Aug. 6, Preferred One had 59 percent of the individual market MNsure enrollees. Blue Cross Blue Shield was a distant second at 23 percent, with HealthPartners, Medica and UCare much further back. Preferred One got such a large share because they had the lowest rates of the five insurance companies in the program.

I can’t wait to hear the DFL spinmeisters attempt to spin this as anything other than a disaster. People chose PreferredOne because their rates were the lowest in MNsure.

It’s possible this could signal big rate increases to be unveiled in early October, and that could have a significant impact on the elections.

PreferredOne didn’t get 59% of the MNsure health insurance market by having health insurance policies that were a little cheaper than its competitors. It got 60% of the market by being significantly cheaper than its competitors.

This won’t trigger other health insurance companies to lower their rates, which means the average price for a health insurance policy will go up more than originally expected. If that happens, this news has the potential to dramatically change the dynamics of the gubernatorial election and the legislative races. Jeff Johnson’s statement cuts to the heart of the matter:

“This is yet another example of everyday, middle-class Minnesotans paying the price for Mark Dayton’s incompetence. Six out of 10 people who’ve purchased insurance through MNsure will now have to go through the nightmare process of purchasing another plan all over again-thanks to Mark Dayton.

We now know that Mark Dayton’s claim about MNsure having some of the lowest rates in the country was artificial and based on a house of cards.

Nobody but Mark Dayton is to blame for this whole debacle. As he always does when his actions hurt Minnesotans, Dayton will try to blame everyone but himself. But he created MNsure and hand-picked its board and staff. This is all on him.”

Actually, I have to correct Jeff on one detail. The MNsure calamity isn’t just Gov. Dayton’s fault. It’s the DFL legislature’s fault, too. Otherwise, everything Jeff Johnson said is right. Potentially, this is Gov. Dayton’s worst nightmare. If health insurance prices spike by 10-15%, which is what’s rumored, Gov. Dayton’s biggest accomplishment will turn into a weighty millstone around his neck.

This has the potential to totally shake up legislative races, too. Almost every DFL legislator voted to create MNsure. If health insurance premiums jump, the DFL will have to take all the blame because Republicans refused to vote for this disaster.

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This ad, paid for by the House DFL Caucus, says that Zach Dorholt is “delivering for St. Cloud and the middle class”:

Like I said in this post, the DFL dances to the tune that Education Minnesota tells them to dance to. Zach Dorholt is no different. Like the rest of his DFL colleagues in the House of Representatives, Zach voted against teacher accountability because that’s what Education Minnesota told them to do. Rather than doing what’s right for Minnesota’s students and parents, Zach Dorholt and the DFL decided they couldn’t risk Education Minnesota pulling their campaign contributions or their Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations.

When it’s a fight between doing what’s right for parents and students or doing what’s right for Education Minnesota, Zach Dorholt and the DFL will always fight for Education Minnesota.

The best way I can illustrate who the DFL fights for is to ask everyone when the last time was that the DFL picked the people instead of picking one of their special interest allies. Take your time. Do your research. Go through all of the DFL’s votes. That includes Zach Dorholt’s votes. Check out their votes in committee. Check out their votes on the GOP’s amendments to bills.

I’d bet that the DFL sided with the people less than 5% of the time when it was a fight between the people and one of the DFL’s special interest allies.

Let’s take this from the theoretical to the concrete. At their State Convention, did the DFL side with the blue collar workers of the Iron Range or the Twin Cities plutocrats and trust fund babies on mining? Did Dorholt and the DFL side with the women who ran in-home child care businesses or did they side with their friends in the SEIU and AFSCME instead?

The simple answer is that the DFL didn’t side with blue collar miners or the women who run in-home child care businesses. The DFL took the side of their special interest allies. Not once but twice. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only times that Zach Dorholt and the DFL didn’t take the people’s side.

In the spring of 2013, convenience stores lobbied the DFL legislature not to raise the cigarette tax, saying that raising the cigarette tax would hurt convenience stores on the Minnesota borders with North Dakota or Wisconsin. Zach Dorholt and the DFL couldn’t resist the ideological pull. They raised the cigarette tax, which led to Minnesotans driving to North Dakota or Wisconsin to buy their cigarettes.

Thanks to Zach Dorholt’s and the DFL’s decisions, middle class Minnesotans are getting squeezed. Despite significant increases in LGA and school funding, people’s property tax bills are going up. The jobs created during the time when the DFL controlled the entire state government are mostly part-time jobs or they’re low-paying jobs.

The unemployment rate on the Iron Range is 64.3% higher than the statewide average, thanks mostly to policies advocated for by environmental activists.

Zach Dorholt and the DFL are delivering. Unfortunately, they’re delivering for Education Minnesota and their other special interest allies, not for the middle class.

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This DFL ad attacks Jeff Johnson because the DFL doesn’t want parents to know that Gov. Dayton supports Education Minnesota more than he supports students:

Here’s the transcript from the DFL’s mean-spirited ad:

I think a lot of Minnesotans don’t know what Jeff Johnson stands for. It seems like schools are not Jeff Johnson’s priority. Jeff Johnson cut early childhood spending. That really bothers me. Any cuts to that would be devastating for our family. Our kids are our future so how could you do that? I would hate to see Minnesota take a step backwards in education. Students in the state of Minnesota deserve far better than that. I trust Mark Dayton. We think Gov. Dayton is the right choice for moving Minnesota’s schools forward.

That’s what I’d expect from the DFL and Education Minnesota. Everything in the DFL’s ad is about spending. There’s nothing in it about teacher quality.

That’s because Education Minnesota won’t let the DFL talk about teacher quality. In 2011, the Republican legislature passed a bill that required high school math teachers to pass a basic skills test. A year later, 4 high school math teachers for the Sauk Rapids-Rice school district got waivers from the Dayton administration’s Education Department because they couldn’t pass the basic skills test.

The DFL and Education Minnesota have always been about spending. They’ve never focused on teacher quality. There’s proof of that in what the all-DFL government (House, Senate and Gov. Dayton) did the minute they took control. At the request of Education Minnesota, the all-DFL government repealed the Dayton-signed basic skills test for teachers. That required Gov. Dayton’s signature.

That’s proof that Gov. Dayton was for teacher accountability before Education Minnesota told him he was against teacher accountability. This isn’t news. I first highlighted Education Minnesota’s domination of the DFL in this post from 2010.

The DFL’s ad could’ve been written by Education Minnesota. The DFL is the puppet. EdMinn is the DFL’s puppetmaster. That the DFL would regurgitate EdMinn’s chanting points is both predictable and disgusting.

Finally, the DFL’s ad is BS. Jeff Johnson didn’t cut K-12 spending. He just didn’t increase it as much as EdMinn wanted it increased. Jeff Johnson is committed to shrinking Minnesota’s achievement gap, something that Gov. Dayton and EdMinn have utterly failed at.

Parents want improving results. EdMinn wants more money. Thus far, EdMinn has gotten their money. Thanks to EdMinn’s efforts to stop teacher accountability, parents haven’t seen improving results.

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To conservative political junkies, the Minnesota Poll is seen as political graffiti. The Strib’s Abby Simon wrote this article summarizing the race between Sen. Franken and GOP challenger Mike McFadden. The headline will get all the attention but there’s some startling information that Sen. Franken will like. First, here’s the headline:

Franken gets the backing of 49 percent of likely voters, while McFadden gets 36 percent. Another 11 percent say they have not yet decided.

That part certainly will put a smile on Franken’s face. This part will wipe that smile off his face:

But that lead vanishes in northern Minnesota, where 55 percent prefer McFadden to Franken, who gets a little over one third. The number of undecideds also dwindles to 5 percent. The state’s Iron Range region has become politically volatile in recent elections, with fissures deepening this year over controversial issues like the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mining project that sometimes pit labor against environmentalists.

If that polling information is accurate, then it’s difficult to see Franken winning. If 55% of Iron Rangers support McFadden and those numbers have solidified, then Franken’s in some trouble. If that’s the case, then Franken’s got to outperform DFL norms in other parts of the state.

Last week, Ms. Simons called me to ask why I was supporting Mike McFadden. Here’s the quote she used from our interview:

Gary Gross, a conservative Republican from St. Cloud, says he’s indifferent to McFadden’s business background, but will back him for other reasons.

“At this point we need progrowth policies, economic policies, and Senator Franken hasn’t shown me that he’s interested in those types of things,” said Gross, 58, a self-employed blogger and researcher. “He’s pretty much gone along with the types of policies that have just kind of stuck us in the stagnation we’re in, and that would be my biggest reason for going with Mr. McFadden.”

Honestly, Franken has been a rubberstamp for Harry Reid and President Obama. The other thing about Franken is that he’s never dealt with economic issues.

Over the last 25+ years, Franken has been a mediocre comedian, a mean-spirited talk radio host and a do-as-I’m-told rubberstamp senator. There’s nothing in Sen. Franken’s resume that indicates he knows a thing about the economy.

Sen. Franken thinks that tax-the-rich is an economic plan. So does President Obama, Sen. Reid and Gov. Dayton. Sen. Franken thinks that environmental activists should have veto authority over important economic development projects. So does President Obama, Sen. Reid and Gov. Dayton.

Mike McFadden thinks that people who’ve been mining for more than a century know how to protect the environment while mining raw minerals from the ground. McFadden trusts Rangers because they’ve protected the land they live on for over a century. Most importantly, Mike McFadden knows how important the PolyMet project is to Minnesota’s economic health.

While PolyMet is the poster child for high profile economic development projects, it’s just the best example of a totally different economic philosophy between Mike McFadden, who’s helped create jobs, and Sen. Franken, who’s voted for policies that’ve kept us in this stagnation pattern.

If this race boils down to who’s most qualified to create economic growth, that headline number will disappear quickly.

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According to this ad by the House DFL Caucus, Zach Dorholt is “delivering for St. Cloud and the middle class”:

That’s a nice-sounding chanting point. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have anything to do with reality. Job creation has stagnated. Revenues are falling short of projections.

Most importantly, Dorholt voted for spending $90,000,000 on an office building that isn’t needed instead of spending that money on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges.

That’s Dorholt’s record. What part of that says that he’s “delivering for the middle class”? I’d argue that it’s delivering for the privileged. I’d argue that Minnesota’s economy is struggling. That certainly isn’t helping the middle class.

Zach Dorholt voted against working moms who happen to run in-home child care businesses. When he voted to support AFSCME and the SEIU’s unionization scheme, he voted against the First Amendment. That’s because the unionization legislation gives AFSCME and SEIU sole negotiating authority on matters of state funding rates and regulations.

This summer, the Supreme Court ruled that unions can’t force personal care assistants to pay union dues or fair share fees. Also this summer, a lawsuit was filed that would strip the unions of their exclusive negotiating authority. Rep. Dorholt voted against these small business women.

These women aren’t 1-percenters. They’re the heart of the middle class. When Rep. Dorholt repeatedly voted against them, he, along with the rest of the DFL, voted against the middle class.

When Rep. Dorholt voted for raising the cigarette tax, he voted against convenience stores on Minnesota’s borders with North Dakota and Wisconsin. Thanks to that tax bill, those stores are now struggling while stores in North Dakota and Wisconsin are celebrating their higher profits.

If anything, Rep. Dorholt is helping the DFL deliver a knockout punch to Minnesota’s middle class. The Dayton-DFL-Dorholt economy is delivering pain to the middle class, thanks to lower wages and higher prices on products.

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