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It’s nice to throw in a healthy dose of sarcasm when talking about MNsure. Without it, people might get frustrated. This LTE highlights how dysfunctional MNsure is.

The Dayton administration insists that MNsure is working just fine. For instance, “MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole said the exchange ‘has improved significantly every year’ and predicted that ‘trend will continue again this year.'”

That’s news to Olmsted County. They’ve had “to hire five people to handle eligibility processing manually because the automated system is so profoundly broken.” MNsure is dysfunctional. Premiums are skyrocketing. Deductibles are sky-high. Thoughtful people looking at those realities shake their heads and think that people defending MNsure/Obamacare are political hacks.

That’s before factoring in the fact that a month’s insurance premium costs more than the annual penalty. That’s before factoring in the $13,000 deductible that many families’ policies come with. Given those details, why would healthy people purchase health insurance? They’re literally thousands of dollars better off taking their chances.

Seriously, there’s virtually nothing to like about MNsure or the ACA. To borrow an old cribbage phrase, the best way to throw that hand is away. MNsure is crap, which is why it needs to be shit-canned.

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There’s been lots of celebrating on the Range after Resolution 54 got defeated Saturday. This article said that Jason Metsa thinks that the vote is “a clear indication of where the party is at.” Then Metsa admitted that “the issue will be coming up again.”

First, the Range DFL survived Saturday, partially because all parts of the state were represented at the meeting. Anyone that thinks that John Marty will give up his anti-mining crusade anytime soon is kidding themselves. New incoming House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman hasn’t announce that she’ll take a more centrist, pro-mining position now that she’s the top-ranking Democrat in the House.

That’s before talking about whether organizations like the Sierra Club, MCEA or Conservation Minnesota (which gets significant funding from Alida Messenger) will stop bringing lawsuits against PolyMet. MCEA’s mission is to file lawsuit after lawsuit against mining companies or utilities. Winning the lawsuits isn’t MCEA’s goal. Their goal is to wear down the investors until those investors quit. I wrote about that tactic in this post, which I titled Attrition, not litigation.

Third, defeating Resolution 54 isn’t a victory because it didn’t approve a single permit for PolyMet or Twin Metals. The last I looked, Gov. Dayton hasn’t relented in saying no to the initial permits for the Twin Metals mining project.

Fourth, the DFL hasn’t lifted a finger to streamline the permitting process. I won’t trust them until they support permitting reform and regulatory relief. Even then, I’ll remain skeptical because these guys won’t permit the DFL to do real reforms:

The lede in this article sounds a triumphant tone. The opening says “Labor Democrats decided to fight Saturday and won a major victory for the party’s future on the Iron Range.” While it’s a procedural victory for the Range, it isn’t a major victory if you’re judging it by whether anything changed as a result of the vote.

In defeating Resolution 54, the Range Delegation kept the language of the resolution out of the DFL state party platform. That shouldn’t be mistaken for defeating the environmental activist Metrocrats. It shouldn’t be mistaken as proof that Gov. Dayton will approve any permits for PolyMet. Defeating Resolution 54 doesn’t mean that the DFL is suddenly open to mining.

The DFL loves bogging things down with regulations, regulators and lawsuit. The thing Iron Rangers should ask themselves seems unrelated at first. This past winter, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)decided to look into the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Specifically, they took jurisdiction over whether the pipeline path should be rerouted. The first question that should be asked is straightforward: what does the agency that regulates electricity rates have to do with infrastructure permitting? It isn’t like the PUC was the first regulatory agency to review the Sandpiper Pipeline’s potential impact on its environment. The point is that the PUC took jurisdiction to hinder the permitting process.

Here’s another important question that the DFL hasn’t answered: why didn’t Gov. Dayton scream bloody murder when the PUC hijacked jurisdiction on the Sandpiper Pipeline project? In 2013-14, when the DFL had total control of the legislature and had a friendly DFL governor to work with, why didn’t they streamline the permitting process? Might it be because they prefer a permitting process that’s complex and convoluted?

Ask PolyMet’s investors whether these DFL-supporting organizations haven’t used the same tactics to kill PolyMet. If they’re being honest, they’d say that’s the exact playbook that’s been used against them. Until the pro-mining part of the DFL becomes the dominant part of the DFL or until pro-mining voters switch to the GOP, there won’t be a change in the outcome. Saturday’s vote was all show. In the real world, it meant nothing. The anti-mining wing of the DFL still rules the DFL.

Now that Resolution 54 has been defeated and labor leaders are experiencing a mini-Kumbaya moment, it’s time to examine what the Iron Range won yesterday. I’ll return to that in a bit but it’s important to set this up properly.

Rick Nolan apparently gave a speech that set the mood for the vote, saying “Nobody loves the environment more than the Rangers. I don’t want to see the party take a stance against mining or agriculture or manufacturing.”

What’s important to notice about Saturday, though, is that that was a show vote. In yesterday’s setting, Democrats from rural Minnesota had a voice. All parts of the state had a voice. That dynamic changes dramatically in January. Does anyone seriously think that the Sierra Club will suddenly stop demagoguing “sulfide mining”? Will the MCEA stop filing lawsuits aimed at killing PolyMet? Will Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission stop meddling in pipeline construction projects?

The answer to each of those questions is an emphatic ‘NO!’

Most importantly, it isn’t likely that Gov. Dayton’s administration will grant PolyMet the permits it needs so PolyMet can start growing the Iron Range’s economy. The final analysis of Saturday’s vote is this: while Environmental Caucus Chair Veda Kanitz and her supporters claim to have extended an olive branch to the Iron Range yesterday, it isn’t likely that environmental activist organizations like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, MCEA and Conservation Minnesota will suddenly start fighting fair.

These organizations aren’t mainstream organizations. They’ve got an anti-mining, anti-fossil fuel agenda. It’s worth noting that the DFL, as a political party, still supports shifting to renewable energy. Renewable energy won’t sustain mining operations.

Notice whose names are missing in this paragraph:

While tabling the resolution gained momentum, an impassioned Congressman Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, roused the crowd in the auditorium with a plea to truly unite by not taking a stance against the issue. Nolan was speaking on behalf of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken and Congressman Tim Walz.

Missing from that paragraph are Mark Dayton and Tina Flint-Smith. Their silence is deafening.

The Iron Range won a minor skirmish yesterday. The thrill of that victory will soon fade. Organizations like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, MCEA and Conservation Minnesota are in this for the long haul. Celebrate now because the battle is just starting.

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In the fight between home-based PCAs and the SEIU, the Bureau of Mediation Services, aka BMS, “has ordered the suspension of contract talks between the Service Employees International Union representing personal care attendants and state negotiators to avoid interfering with a union decertification campaign underway.”

This is a major victory for the PCAs because it protects against the SEIU negotiating a CBA with the state. The whole purpose of the PCA’s decertification drive is to prevent them from dealing with the SEIU.

The system has been rigged against the PCAs from the start. The Dayton administration has repeatedly refused to turn over an updated list of PCAs to the PCAs seeking decertification. Carol Clifford, a BMS Representation Specialist, wrote “This Order is issued to preserve existing conditions and promote a free and fair environment for the resolution of this question of representation. It shall remain in full force and effect until an investigation and/or hearing has been conducted and the matter is disposed of by a determination issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services.”

“This is significant because if the SEIU and Dayton administration sign a new contract, it’s possible our petition for a new union election would be defeated,” said Kim Crockett, Vice-President at Center of the American Experiment, a supporter of the decertification drive. “Everything we’ve done might be thrown out and we wouldn’t be able to start a new campaign for two years.”

If there is a decertification vote, it won’t be close. The decertify PCAs will win in a landslide. With that, the SEIU will lose out on approximately $4,700,000 worth of dues each year.

The only reason why the SEIU wants the PCAs in their union is to play a larger role in DFL campaigns. This doesn’t have anything to do with making life better for the PCAs or the people they care for. It’s totally about political power.

It isn’t a secret that Democrats aren’t fans of government reform. They’ve been the defenders of the status quo for years. Hillary Clinton was their presidential nominee. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are the faces of Senate and House Democrats. This trio of fossils aren’t mistaken for having fresh ideas. If they don’t want to be politically irrelevant, they need new management and fresh, appealing ideas.

In Minnesota, the DFL is slightly ahead of the game compared with the DNC. Still, they’re too reliant on cronyism. That’s what this article highlights.

Cronyism is the name of the game that Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen played with U.S. Bank Stadium suites. According to multiple reports, “Kelm-Helgen and Mondale, two government employees, control access to two lower-level luxury ‘Norseman Suites’ for all events at the stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The MSFA controls 36 tickets per game and the agency also got a nearly identical number of free parking spaces in the surface lot used by Vikings players.” That’s just the tip of the U.S. Bank Stadium iceberg. There’s more:

Kelm-Helgen and Mondale said they and the four MSFA commissioners use the suites to host potential clients who are looking to rent all or portions of the stadium, which opened in August. But they also acknowledge they regularly invite friends and family to the suites.

The two say they can’t reveal the identities of their guests because that would hinder their marketing efforts. However, they did release the identities of 12 current and former public officials who reimbursed the authority $200 for their tickets to the suite.

Here’s the description of what’s included in the Norseman Suites:

Norseman Lounge Suites
Highly exclusive 10 person Suites located between the 20 yard line and the end line just 36 rows from the field. Each Suite comes with access to the exclusive Lounge directly behind the Suite featuring a private bar and all-inclusive upscale food offerings, VIP parking, other event access, away game trips and much more. (NEWLY DESIGNED, ONLY 15 BUILT)

ABOUT THE NORSEMAN LOUNGE SUITES        
• 36 Rows from the Field
• Side End zone – 20 yard line
• 6 fixed and 4 drink rail chairs with view to the field
• All-inclusive, unlimited beer, wine, high end food and non-alcoholic beverages
• Private/ Elite Lounge access
• 1 Annual Suite Holder Event on the field
• Super Bowl Access
• Away game road trips
• Access to other events
EXCLUSIVE SUITE BENEFITS       
• VIP Parking Passes in a ramp in close proximity to the Stadium
• All-inclusive food and beverage package with a full-service concierge staff
• Participation in Team-arranged away road trips at points during the term of your Suite Agreement (limited to two (2) persons)
• The opportunity to purchase a to-be-determined number of Super Bowl tickets (not Suite tickets) in any year the Vikings participate in the Super Bowl or the Super Bowl is held at the new Stadium

Frankly, it’s disgusting that Kelm-Helgen and Mondale insist that they “can’t reveal the identities of their guests because that would hinder their marketing efforts.” That’s spin for saying ‘giving out that list would be politically embarrassing.’

I’d say that some DFL (sense of) entitlement reform is required.

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In this interview, incoming Chair of the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, nailed it when she was asked by the AP reporter if there will be a special session. Sen. Benson replied “I am less hopeful today than I was even a couple of days ago. We’re just not hearing anything from the governor that indicates he’s interested in the bigger picture in health care. There needs to be some understanding from the governor’s office that he wants to change things going forward. If we get that, I think we go a long way to opening the door to a special session.”

I wrote this post to highlight Gov. Dayton’s unseriousness in fixing Minnesota’s health care system. It wasn’t that long ago that Minnesota had the best health care and health insurance systems in the United States. That isn’t true anymore. Rather than fixing the problems are having, Gov. Dayton has chosen to criticize Republicans, saying “We’re running out of time. Quit dilly-dallying and get to work, and decide whether you are going to support my proposal, which is ready to go, and is viable, or you don’t want to do it.”

First, Republicans have agreed that there needs to be a rebate system for this year to help people who don’t qualify for the federal subsidies. That’s the entirety of Gov. Dayton’s plan. Gov. Dayton’s plan doesn’t do anything to fix anything for the long-term. If that isn’t fixed, Minnesotans will be faced with a bigger crisis this time next year. This isn’t a matter of Republicans “dilly-dallying around.” It’s a matter of whether Gov. Dayton will stop pretending the ACA is a solid health care system. It isn’t.

Q: How much can the Legislature really do before the changes from the federal level become clear?
A: We have to put some solid things in place. I think we have to look at a reinsurance program (to help insurers pay for high-cost patients). How do we improve choice of competitiveness? I don’t know if we’ve already gone too far. Can the individual market recover?

Thanks to Minnesota’s reinsurance program, Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions could get health insurance at a reasonable price. It isn’t coincidental that health insurance premiums have skyrocketed since it was eliminated.

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Gov. Dayton’s last day in office can’t come soon enough. Saying that our governor is a spoiled rich brat with a short fuse is understatement. This time, Gov. Dayton says that he’s running out of patience with the GOP over MNsure. This article quotes Gov. Dayton as saying “I’m running out of patience” after accusing “Republicans of dragging their feet about fixing” MNsure.

After watching Gov. Dayton the past 6 years, I’m not convinced that Gov. Dayton ever had patience. Later in the article, Gov. Dayton is quoted as saying “We’re running out of time. Quit dilly-dallying and get to work, and decide whether you are going to support my proposal, which is ready to go, and is viable, or you don’t want to do it.”

Gov. Dayton, stop pretending like you have a plan to fix all of Minnesota’s health care problems. You’ve got a plan to send out rebate checks to people who make too much money to qualify for federal subsidies.

Gov. Dayton’s ‘plan’ doesn’t do a thing to increase access to health care. It certainly doesn’t make health care affordable for anything more than a year. People living in rural Minnesota don’t have a lengthy list of insurers to pick from, either. Here’s the video of Gov. Dayton coming unhinged:

I published this post to highlight Greg Davids’ plan to fix the multiple problems with Minnesota’s health care system. At the time that I published that post, I made these points:

One part of Chairman Davids’ proposal deals with out-of-network expenses:

Create a tax credit to reduce out of-network-costs that arise from seeking care from a long-time primary care physician. Minnesotans were promised that if they liked their doctor they could keep their doctor, but too many are losing their long-time doctors due to narrow networks. Continuity of care needs to be addressed to ensure that we do not lose sight of the importance of actual health care when we look at the problems with health insurance coverage.

Another part of Chairman Davids’ plan deals with expanding choices:

Allow Minnesotans to purchase non-qualified health plans (QHPs), and seek a federal waiver to waive tax penalties for those who purchase a non-QHP insurance plan. If the federal government will not approve the waiver, Minnesota should provide a rebate to cover the cost of the non-QHP penalty.

Since the time I published that post, it’s likely that the Trump administration will grant states waivers that would permit them to ignore parts of the ACA.

Where’s Gov. Dayton’s comprehensive plan to fix the things that he and the DFL broke when they created MNsure? Gov. Dayton and the DFL certainly sang MNsure’s praises at their signing ceremony. Sen. Lourey said “The people won on this bill.” Rep. Joe Atkins said “This truly is a landmark day in Minnesota. This is the most significant reform of health insurance we’ve seen in Minnesota in 50 years.”

The system that the DFL put in place certainly wasn’t a reform and the people lost when MNsure was implemented. If Gov. Dayton and the DFL want to lose big in 2018, all they have to do is keep doing what they’re doing. Gov. Dayton and the DFL are heading for a trainwreck of historic proportions if they don’t get serious about working with Republicans in fixing the DFL’s crisis.

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It isn’t a secret that Gov. Dayton will resist attempts to improve Minnesota’s health care system. This article includes a quote from Gov. Dayton that indicates he’s still in denial about Obamacare.

First, it’s worth noting that Gov. Dayton said “The average wait time has been measured in seconds. If they’re going to be attacking MNsure and wanting to abolish it, they should at least do it on the basis of the current situation, not [what happened] three years ago.” Though I’m not the GOP spokesman, I think it’s safe to say that Republicans use the term MNsure to talk about Minnesota’s health care system.

Right now, Minnesota’s health insurance system isn’t affordable. Lot’s of people have health insurance but can’t afford health care because of Minnesota’s high health care premiums and high deductibles. One of the things that was talked about at this press availability was the need to return Minnesota to having a high-risk pool:

Leader-Elect Gazelka highlighted MCHA multiple times during his press availability. Specifically, WCCO’s Pat Kessler asked about whether Republicans could maintain Minnesota’s 96% insured rate. The clear inference was that the Republican plan would kick people off of insurance. Had Kessler done his homework, he’d know that the Republicans’ plan was likely to maintain that 96% insured rate. In 2007, Minnesota’s insured rate was 92.8%. Of those that weren’t insured, half were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health care. That means that the effective insured rate pre-ACA was 96.5%.

Most importantly, Minnesotans’ health insurance was affordable prior to the Anything But Affordable Care Act. Why would Gov. Dayton and the DFL resist returning to a health insurance system that worked and was affordable? I predict that that’s what Gov. Dayton and the DFL will do. With Dayton’s propensity to shut the government down, I think it’s likely that Gov. Dayton will attempt to shut state government down for the third time in his time in office.

Gov. Dayton’s legacy will be ruined if MNsure is discredited. Gov. Dayton and the DFL were bigtime cheerleaders for the ACA and MNsure. It’s possible that the ACA will get gutted before Trump is sworn in. The individual and employer mandates are guaranteed to be repealed. Shouldn’t Gov. Dayton say yes to keeping the exchange intact but then accepted the major overhaul of Minnesota’s health care system?

Shouldn’t Minnesotans have the option of HSAs and catastrophic policies if that’s the best fit for their situation? Why should government tell families what their policies have to include? Democrats say that “a woman’s right to choose” must always be between her, her doctor and her god because it’s a highly personal decision. Shouldn’t providing health care for their family be a highly personal decision, too?

Families, not bureaucrats, know what’s best for their family. That’s why families, consulting with their doctors, should be given their choice. Gov. Dayton and the DFL insist that they know best. Here’s a hint for Gov. Dayton and the DFL: Any politician that doesn’t remember that the tax bill he negotiated has a sales on farm equipment repairs shouldn’t be trusted with making health insurance decisions for families.

Finally, how can Gov. Dayton and the DFL insist on maintaining a system that’s driving health insurance companies out of the individual market? Apparently, they’re that willing to hurt families rather than admit that they made a colossal mistake.

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Today marks LFR’s 12th blogiversary. When I started blogging, social media didn’t really exist to any large extent. Twitter wars hadn’t started. We certainly didn’t have Twitchy chronicling the provocative things people said on Twitter. In fact, Twitter didn’t take off until Nancy Pelosi shut down the House of Representatives rather than vote on the Republicans’ all-of-the-above energy program. In fact, that’s why I wrote this post. John Culberson, a Republican member of the House, used Twitter to get the word out about the Republicans’ protest of Pelosi’s strong-arm tactics. When Pelosi turned off the microphones, Rep. Culberson started texting people to tell them of Ms. Pelosi’s strong-arm tactics. Then he took to Twitter.

I started blogging because the so-called MSM wasn’t interested in supplying important information to the people. I hoped that bloggers would create the competition that would force the MSM to start doing their job. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. If anything, it’s gotten worse. The MSM quickly transformed into the Agenda Media, a phrase I coined years before Rush coined the phrase ‘Drive-By Media’. I still think my phrase is a better fit.

LFR’s pledge to you is that I’ll continue to hold people’s feet to the fire. I’ll continue writing about institutional corruption, whether it’s found at MnSCU headquarters or whether it’s when the Dayton administration rigs union organizing elections.

I’m proud that I’ve helped win several elections, including two State Senate races and one congressional race this year. I’ll pledge to keep pressure on the DFL until they fix Minnesota’s health care crisis, too. They broke it. Unfortunately, they’ve refused to fix it. The good news is that Republicans are prepared to fix it. The incoming Trump administration will do its part. Greg Davids, Matt Dean and others will fix what’s broken with Minnesota’s problems.

During the 2017 session, I hope to expand LFR coverage of the legislative session by taking occasional trips to the Capitol, especially around the deadlines. With Gov. Dayton expecting to dig in his heels, especially on health care, this session will be one of the most eventful sessions in history.

Those trips will cost money so consider this my appeal for sponsorships. If you’re interested in sponsoring these trips, contact me by leaving a comment. I will contact you via email. Consider this the official start of my quarterly bleg.

Some things have changed since I started blogging. Over the next year, LFR will be changing, too. Stay tuned for those developments. What hasn’t changed is the need to hold politicians’ feet to the fire. I’m hoping to do that for another dozen years or more.

Finally, thank you to all of the loyal readers of LFR. I’m proud of the fact that LFR has become one of the legislators’ most read news sources.