Archive for the ‘Paul Thissen’ Category

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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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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I can’t believe I missed this statement from Rep. Paul Thissen about the massive health insurance premium increases caused by Obamacare. Better late than never, though, right?

Rep. Thissen opens his statement saying “Minnesotans deserve quality health care at an affordable price. These rate increases for Minnesotans buying coverage in the individual market are too high. It’s not fair to families. Republicans will inevitably point fingers and blame MNsure. But that won’t solve the problem. Indeed, many people buying through MNsure will see much lower, if any, premium increases because they will be able to receive tax credits.”

First, this statement was dated Sept. 30, 2016. That’s thirteen days before Gov. Dayton said that “Affordable Care Act isn’t affordable” for many Minnesotans anymore. Since Gov. Dayton’s statement, it’s likely that every legislator has heard horror stories from their constituents. Thissen’s statement also was published before Bill Clinton said that Obamacare was “the craziest thing” he’d ever seen.

Thissen’s tone changed dramatically when he published this statement on Oct. 14:

Rep. Thissen is lying when he talked about “insurance companies who are putting profits before patients.” This isn’t a misstatement. It isn’t a simple mistake. It’s an outright lie because Rep. Thissen’s known for quite some time that insurance companies were leaving MNsure because they were losing tens of millions of dollars. Further, Rep. Thissen knows that the Dayton administration had to approve massive premium increases and caps on how many people the insurance companies were required to enroll just to keep them from pulling out of MNsure entirely because they were losing money.

Thissen’s proposal isn’t a solution, either. It’s a temporary fix at best. Rep. Thissen can’t admit what will happen next year because it’s that grim. There’s no guarantee that these insurance companies won’t jump ship next year. In fact, I’d bet that they will abandon this sinking ship.

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Intentionally, Democrats in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate created Obamacare without a single Republican vote. They didn’t want any Republican votes because they didn’t want any Republican ideas. Likewise, DFL legislators in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota State Senate rejected every amendment that Republicans offered. They didn’t want any GOP ideas ‘soiling’ their plan.

Now that virtually every state exchange is collapsing, including Minnesota’s, DC Democrats and DFL legislators are whining that Republicans haven’t rescued them from the mess that they created by themselves. For instance, this article highlights this whining. Specifically, Don Davis wrote that “Dayton still supports the federal law. And he blamed congressional Republicans for refusing to take action to fix its flaws.”

The DFL, with Gov. Dayton acting as their chief cheerleader, enthusiastically created MNsure without a single Republican vote. This article by the St. Paul Pioneer Press’s Christopher Snowbeck, highlighted the DFL legislators’ congratulatory statements.

First, Snowbeck quoted Gov. Dayton as saying “This is not meant to serve the insurance industry, or any industry.” Next, Snowbeck quoted Sen. Tony Lourey, the chief author of the bill in the Senate, as saying “The people won on this bill.” It’s doubtful that Sen. Lourey would repeat that today.

Joe Atkins saidThis truly is a landmark day in Minnesota. This is the most significant reform of health insurance we’ve seen in Minnesota in 50 years.” Atkins was a co-sponsor of the bill in the House.

It’s important to note that, contrary to Gov. Dayton’s statement, Republicans have offered solutions to this crisis. It’s just that the DFL governor, like the DFL legislators at the time, have reflexively rejected the Republicans’ plans. Since Gov. Dayton’s statement that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable” to many Minnesotans, Senate Republicans put together a detailed plan to fix the crisis.

Even now, some DFL legislators aren’t admitting that they created a problem:

[Rep. Paul] Marquart said MNsure is a good program that needs help. To fix it, the state may need to bring back its high-risk insurance pool, he said.

That isn’t a fix. That’s a full reversal. It’s a return to what Minnesota had before the MNsure crisis.

DFL Sen. Rod Skoe of Clearbrook said MNsure needs to be fixed, not eliminated. “The cost of health insurance is driven by the cost of health care,” he said. But the administrative cost of many insurance plans is approaching 30 percent, which is too high, he added.

It isn’t likely that Sen. Skoe will be a senator when the 2017 session opens, partially because he helped create MNsure, partially because he fought for the SWLRT project rather than fighting for tax relief for his constituents.

In summation, Gov. Dayton’s criticism of Republicans is ill-informed or misguided. Republicans have offered solutions. It’s just that the DFL hasn’t liked the solutions because Republicans essentially said that the fix was to replace Obamacare with what had worked prior to Obamacare.

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When Gov. Dayton said that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for many Minnesotans”, he stated the obvious. During his interview with Ed Morrissey, which I consider must viewing for every GOP candidate, Speaker Kurt Daudt highlighted MNsure’s deficiencies.

Speaker Daudt spoke of a farming family he met during a MNsure listening session in Red Wing, MN, who told Speaker Daudt that their premiums this year were $2,300/mo. Then Speaker Daudt said that this family’s deductible for this year was an additional $13,000 this year. This family’s out-of-pocket expenses, which they’d pay before the insurance would pay a penny, was over $40,000.

As shocking as that was, the next part was frightening. Speaker Daudt said that that was this family’s premiums before this year’s open enrollment premium increases of between 50% and 67%. That means, at minimum, this family’s premiums for 2017 would exceed $41,000. If their premium increased by 67%, this family’s premiums for 2017 would jump to $46,000. That’s one year’s premiums for a family of 3 healthy people.

In this op-ed, Speaker Daudt said something important:

It’s important to remember those promises because Democrats’ primary solution to the current crisis is to keep pouring money into MNsure, at least $400,000,000 of taxpayer money to date, raise taxes on healthcare, and add more Minnesotans to public health insurance.

This is the other thing that Speaker Daudt said:

Third, we need long-term stability and competition. While options are constrained by the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, we can employ creative solutions that stabilize the individual market and lower costs either through portable premium assistance for consumers or a reinsurance program similar in purpose to the former Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association.

In other words, Speaker Daudt recommends returning to what was working prior to the Obamacare disaster. In light of this existing disaster, why shouldn’t the legislature return us to a system that gave Minnesota one of the highest, if not the highest, rates of people who are insured and that had some of the lowest health insurance premiums in the nation? Those rates were among the most stable in the nation, too.

This interview is must viewing for understanding how we reached this point:

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As usual, Rep. Paul Thissen is criticizing Republicans for the DFL’s mistakes. The DFL created MNsure without a vote from Republicans. Republicans offered amendments to the MNsure bill but those amendments were rejected by the DFL because Rep. Thissen wasn’t interested in doing what’s right. Rep. Thissen was just interested in winning partisan victories.

Now that MNsure is an unmitigated disaster, Rep. Thissen is blaming Republicans for the DFL’s mistakes, saying “Republicans have a pattern of waiting until the last minute and then trying to say ‘Oh man, we have an emergency and we need to solve it.’ That’s what they’re doing again. Where have you been for two years?”

That’s what I expect from Rep. Thissen. The DFL created a disaster while he was Speaker, Tom Bakk was the Senate Majority Leader and Mark Dayton was the governor because they wanted the big victory for President Obama. It blew up from the start. In Rep. Thissen’s thinking, it’s Republicans’ fault for not saving the DFL from the DFL’s policy disasters. Harold Hamilton sized things up perfectly with this:

Recall that Governor Dayton and DFL own this debacle lock, stock, and barrel. They created this mess without a single GOP vote. Of course, that hasn’t stopped DFL politicians from trying to pin blame on Republicans. This finger pointing comes in the form of demanding that the GOP help the DFL get out of the mess and find solutions to their problem. This is typical, expected, and emblematic of the shameless nature of their politics.

DFLers set fire to some issue, and then jump up and down demanding that the GOP play fireman (fire person?) and douse the flames. It’s all part of the deflection of the issue. This all follows a familiar pattern:

  1. First, DFL identifies some issue as being in need of a government solution.
  2. Two, DFL creates policy that makes situation worse.
  3. Three, DFL blames some boogie man (e.g. Big Insurance Companies) and demands GOP fix problem.
  4. Four, DFL uses the we-care-about-people-so-our-results-don’t-matter excuse.
  5. Five, GOP fixes problem. Or if they don’t, DFL blames GOP for not caring and not having a solution.

Needless to say, the GOP has solutions, and has had solutions. The House and Senate GOP should go through the record and tally the number of amendments that were offered by their members in all committees and on both floors. Amendments were offered by the GOP. The DFL rejected them. Now, the DFL wants GOP ownership of their problem.This video highlights the MNsure disaster:

Pay particular attention to Sen. Julie Rosen’s presentation 10 minutes into the presentation. It’s totally infuriating. If you aren’t upset with the DFL after watching that, then you don’t have a pulse.
Putting this bluntly, the DFL is the party of failure. The DFL didn’t support the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Instead of providing high-paying jobs to Minnesotans, the DFL pushed those high-paying jobs away to North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Three years ago, the DFL created MNsure. Now it’s a disaster. That’s the same year that they made an historic investment in K-12 education that would keep property taxes low. I’ve written frequently how that historic investment failed, too. Property taxes are still going up.

If you want failed policies in the future, vote DFL this year. That’s the DFL’s specialty. If you want things fixed or done right the first time, then voting for Republicans is the taxpayers’ only option.

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It isn’t a secret that I don’t like Paul Thissen. I find him to be a man of little character but 2 faces. He’s also a political hack. This post will highlight Rep. Thissen’s character flaws. This post will highlight what he’s done recently in private vs. what he’s said publicly.

This post will highlight some of the behind-the-scenes things that caused Gov. Dayton to announce that there won’t be a special session this fall. This article’s quotes of Speaker Daudt highlight Rep. Thissen’s lack of integrity. For instance, Speaker Daudt said “I’m particularly disappointed that Minority Leader Thissen refused to meet two days ago, and refused to even provide his availability to schedule a meeting with Governor Dayton and legislative leaders.” It’s impossible to negotiate with someone who won’t even schedule a negotiating session.

Rep. Thissen sang a different tune in this article, though:

Thissen, a DFLer from Minneapolis, said it was “House Republicans that didn’t really want to get a special session done. This Legislature proved it can’t function. I think they proved that back in May,” Thissen said. “I don’t think we gain anything (politically) by not getting a special session.”

What this past session proved is that the legislature doesn’t function properly if the Minority Leader is frequently attempting to sabotage good-faith attempts to accomplish things. Rep. Thissen fit that role perfectly.

Rep. Thissen has a history of not working well with others. This past May, 7 Republicans wrote a letter to Rep. Thissen. One of the things they said was “Throughout this session, we have witnessed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by you on the floor of the House of Representatives.” A day later, Rep. Thissen apologized, which I wrote about in this post.

Shortly after becoming Speaker in 2015, Speaker Daudt negotiated an agreement between Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton. At the time, Gov. Dayton said “I’m confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can’t trust.” That’s something that the Twin Cities media praised Speaker Daudt for.

In May, 2015, Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk worked out a bipartisan budget agreement in an afternoon after spending the entire last full week of the session negotiating with Gov. Dayton. Despite all that proof that Speaker Daudt is a tough, fair negotiator, Rep. Thissen wants us to believe that Speaker Daudt isn’t interested in making a deal.

Still, we’re supposed to believe Rep. Thissen when he says that Speaker Daudt didn’t want to negotiate in good faith to get a bonding bill and a tax relief bill signed? Why should we trust Rep. Thissen considering all the scandalous things he’s done?

I’ll trust Speaker Daudt because he’s got a lengthy history of negotiating in good faith. I won’t trust Rep. Thissen because he’s got a lengthy history of undermining good faith negotiations for purely partisan reasons.

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DFL senators killed the House bonding bill in mid-May by insisting that the bill include funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. In June, Gov. Dayton killed middle class tax relief with a pocket veto. In July, Gov. Dayton refused to call a special session in House Republicans didn’t include funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. (Sounds like a broken record, doesn’t it?) In August, after the Met Council, CTIB and Hennepin County provided the local funding for the Southwest Light Rail project, Gov. Dayton hinted that he was open to a special session again.

Friday, Gov. Dayton sent a letter to Speaker Daudt saying that “he had ‘reluctantly concluded that the time for agreement on a Special Session has expired.'” It expired because Gov. Dayton didn’t get everything he wanted in the bill. Republicans insisted that specific highway projects be included in the bonding bill, including the Highway 14 project. Speaker Daudt addressed that, saying “House Republicans have initiated every meeting and discussion over the past two months to pass tax relief and funding for critical infrastructure projects like Highway 23, Highway 14, and countless others throughout the state.”

In the end, Gov. Dayton said that wasn’t enough:

But the infrastructure bill was more troublesome. Lawmakers solved the money issue — Dayton’s demands that Republicans add new funding for his priorities, including upgrades at the state’s psychiatric hospital in St. Peter. But a process issue proved intractable. Dayton objected on principle to the infrastructure bill’s earmarking of money for specific projects, and was backed up in this by a letter signed by a bipartisan range of current and former chairs of the Legislature’s transportation committees. Many lawmakers like earmarking because it lets them guarantee funding for key projects in their home districts. House leaders agreed to a compromise that would give the Department of Transportation more flexibility instead of dictating every project, but Dayton’s letter said that “remains unacceptable.”

Gov. Dayton is pretending like MnDOT ultimately decides what projects get done. That’s fiction. It’s indisputable that MnDOT has a say in which projects get done. The Met Council, CTIB and port authorities all have a say in it, too.

The first time that Gov. Dayton and the DFL rejected the special session, Gov. Dayton and the DFL said no because they put a higher priority on funding the SWLRT project than they put on providing middle class tax relief. The final time that Gov. Dayton and the DFL rejected the terms for a special session, they rejected it because they didn’t get to control who picked the highway improvement projects. The reality is that farmers, veterans, students and small businesses didn’t get tax relief because Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t put a high priority on it. Gov. Dayton and the DFL put a higher priority on a project that the vast majority of Minnesotans will never use. Then Gov. Dayton and the DFL said no to tax relief because they didn’t get to pick their transportation projects.

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In 2015, GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk put together a bipartisan budget agreement. The problem that time was that Minnesota’s other political odd couple, Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL Rep. Paul Thissen, combined to sabotage that bipartisan budget agreement. It isn’t unlike the DFL’s sabotaging of the bonding bill this session.

According to this article, “legislative and executive branch staff members [will] gather to discuss bringing legislators back this fall” this morning.

Gov. Dayton, as usual, is acting like a petulant child. This time, he said that the transportation projects in the bonding bill “were selected based on this year’s GOP election needs instead of following a list of the most-needed work as determined by his Minnesota Department of Transportation.” Gov. Dayton knows that a number of the projects specifically put into the bill were picked because the highways were among the most dangerous highways in Minnesota.

While they’re campaigning, Republicans should remind voters that the DFL put a higher priority on funding the Southwest Light Rail project than they put on middle class tax relief. The DFL voted for the Republicans’ Tax Bill but they certainly didn’t fight for it. Let Gov. Dayton criticize Republicans about which transportation projects should’ve been included in the bonding bill. Republicans can counter that by saying that they fought for funding to fix the most dangerous stretches of highway in Minnesota. Then they can remind people that they’re the party that fought for middle class tax relief.

The DFL isn’t in great position going into this election. Many of their mailers talk about bringing people together and how they need a majority in the House and Senate to pass their ultra-liberal agenda. This is my first prediction of the season. Republicans will maintain their majority in the House this election.

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This article makes it pretty clear that farmers aren’t fond of Gov. Dayton. It isn’t a stretch to think that farmers aren’t happy with DFL legislators, either.

Farmers are upset with Gov. Dayton because “farmers were not happy when Dayton tried to do an end-around the legislative intent of the new buffer law and make it apply to private farmland as well as public bodies of water.” As always, Gov. Dayton tried siding with the environmental activist wing of the DFL.

Gov. Dayton wasn’t satisfied with just that. According to the article, Gov. Dayton “followed that with an executive order aimed at restricting the use of certain pesticides that some scientists have implicated in the decline in pollinators, such as honeybees.”

Gov. Dayton still wasn’t finished. According to Becker County Board Chairman Barry Nelson, “the new buffer law will also cost farmers money, because areas now enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program will no longer qualify because of state-mandated buffers.”

TRANSLATION: Farmers get shafted because Gov. Dayton couldn’t resist appeasing the DFL’s environmental activist wing. Gov. Dayton didn’t consult with the farmers though it’s virtually certain that he gave the environmental activists all the time they needed to make their case for this law.

It isn’t a secret that the DFL’s reputation with farmers is dropping. Rep. Thissen thinks that expanding broadband in rural Minnesota is the way to attract additional voters. Apparently, Gov. Dayton thinks that farmers won’t notice him siding with environmental activists. It isn’t that farmers don’t care about other things. It’s that they care most about making money through farming.

Thus far, Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen haven’t figured that out. That’s why Republicans will hold onto their majority in the House. That’s why they have a shot at flipping the Minnesota Senate.

Technorati: Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, Tom Landwehr, Department of Natural Resources, Buffer Zones, Environmental Activists, DFL, Farmers, MNGOP, Election 2016