Archive for the ‘Paul Thissen’ Category
This morning, KSTP’s Tom Hauser interviewed incoming Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and incoming House Minority Leader Melisa Hortman. One of the first topics they discussed was MNsure. Sen. Gazelka quickly made the point that Minnesota’s system prior to the ACA was significantly superior to the system we’re currently dealing with. To her credit, Rep. Hortman quickly agreed with Sen. Gazelka. Later in the show, former DFL State Party Chair Brian Melendez complimented Sen. Gazelka and Rep. Hortman before stating his optimism that their exchange showed that a deal might be reached this session.
I’d like to think that there’s hope but I’m not optimistic about it. IMO, there are 2 people standing in the way of getting something positive done. One of the people that will likely try jamming things up is Paul Thissen. I’m certain that he’s running for governor. If he runs, I’m confident that he’ll run a scorched earth campaign, criticizing Republicans for not getting anything done.
While I’m confident that Rep. Thissen will play the obstructionist card frequently, I’m certain that Gov. Dayton will continue with his hissy fits. The opening paragraphs of David Montgomery’s article say it all:
There was so little trust left between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt by Friday that the two leaders wouldn’t agree to meet in private as they tried to salvage a package of bills to cut taxes, build roads and water projects and help people struggling with health insurance premiums.
Instead, the two sat down in front of television cameras to try to salvage a deal they’d been fighting over in various forms since May. The cameras didn’t help. After just 17 minutes of accusations and arguments, both Dayton and Daudt walked out of the room, unable to agree.
“It’s obviously a very disappointing outcome,” Dayton said afterwards.
Gov. Dayton’s quote is a lie, at least from his perspective. Gov. Dayton hasn’t wanted to work in good faith with Republicans. He stated it matter-of-factly in multiple op-eds by asking voters to give him DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate. (Instead, Minnesotans gave him GOP majorities in the House and Senate.)
Let’s be clear about this. Gov. Dayton is an obstructionist at heart. He’s shut down state government twice. The first time, it’s possible to argue it was the Republicans’ fault. It isn’t a strong argument but it’s an argument. The other time, though, it’s all on Gov. Dayton. Gov. Dayton vetoed bills from a bipartisan budget agreement negotiated by Speaker Daudt and then-Senate Majority Leader Bakk. (It’s worth noting that Rep. Thissen sabotaged both negotiated agreements.) It wouldn’t be surprising if Gov. Dayton shut down the government again this summer. He’s done it before. He apparently thinks that it’s the only way he’s relevant in the budget process. This is Gov. Dayton’s definition of good faith negotiating:
Daudt accused Dayton of breaking the early-December deal earlier this week, when he unveiled proposed language for all three potential special session bills. The proposed infrastructure bill, Daudt said, took away Republican priorities without harming any of Dayton’s own.
It’s time, after 6 long years of the Dayton administration, to call him what he is. Gov. Dayton is Minnesota’s Obstructionist-in-Chief.
Paul Thissen’s op-ed is a total snow job. In that respect, it reminds me of Halloween, 1991. That’s the date of the infamous Halloween Blizzard.
Having Rep. Thissen say that “the next Legislature’s top priority must be to repair the divisions the last two years have created” is especially rich considering the fact that Thissen engaged in “a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff.” This was reported in a letter from Reps. Peppin, Franson, O’Neill, Mack, Albright, Fabian and Nash. In their letter, they said “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.”
I said then what I’ll repeat now: that “Thissen’s behavior wasn’t ‘over the line.’ They weren’t an aberration.” They represented a pattern of disgusting behavior. Remember that the letter said that they witnessed “a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by you on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
In his op-ed, Thissen writes “Why has this ugly divisiveness emerged? Certainly, it arose in part from political rhetoric that marginalizes and demeans Americans based on their race, religion, gender and geography. Voters should demand that all candidates, regardless of party, stand up to and denounce such hateful rhetoric. It has no place in our politics.” Later, he continued “A good first step in addressing this would be to pass meaningful campaign-finance reform to shine a light on the millions in secretive spending that distorts our politics and make sure those who use such intolerant language for political advantage can be held publicly accountable.”
I’ve got a better idea. Let’s start with throwing out legislators that verbally abuse the hard-working staff that make legislators’ lives better. If legislators can’t treat legislative staff with dignity and respect, they’re incapable of leading. That has nothing to do with campaign finance laws. It has everything to do with being a mean-spirited, disrespectful individual.
Thissen literally talks himself in a circle — inside of a single paragraph:
That means offering serious solutions to the realities that squeeze family budgets — child care costs, college tuition, retirement savings, prescription drugs and health care premiums. Finger-pointing and partisan bickering won’t cut it. As an example, House Democrats put forward the first concrete proposal to provide immediate relief for Minnesotans who are facing large premium increases on the individual market. Our plan caps premiums at 10 percent of annual income — a practical solution that will help families now. We invite House Republicans to set aside political expediency and join us in problem-solving so we can get the job done.
Thissen first states that “finger-pointing and partisan bickering won’t cut it”, then engages in finger-pointing and partisan bickering. Then Thissen tells Republicans to “set aside political expediency and join us in problem-solving” the MNsure/ACA crisis. The DFL proposed a one-year fix. Speaker Daudt and Chairman Davids have proposed a plan that would fix the things that are wrong with the ACA.
Republicans proposed a plan that would increase access to health care, not just reduce the price of people’s premiums. Republicans proposed a plan that will actually help people with pre-existing conditions get insurance without raising the cost of health insurance for healthy people. Republicans proposed a plan that will provide people outside the Twin Cities metro multiple choices of insurers.
Anyone that dishonest and that mean-spirited is disqualified to lead.
Technorati: Paul Thissen, Campaign Finance Reform, Partisanship, MNsure, Verbal Abuse, Affordable Care Act, Anger Management, DFL, Kurt Daudt, Greg Davids, Health Care, Insurance Premiums, Accountability, MNGOP, Election 2016
The good news for Minnesotans is that the MNsure website is working again. The bad news for Minnesotans is that MNsure prices are still completely unaffordable. Despite Rep. Thissen’s statements that people’s premiums aren’t going up if they get the tax credits, the truth is that Minnesotans are faced with a multi-faceted health care crisis that’s largely caused by MNsure and the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Dayton insists that MNsure enrollments are “back on track” after Tuesday morning’s difficulties, saying “Minnesotans should be reassured they’re going to get good customer service” before also saying “187,000 people have visited the website and 13,000 have enrolled in health insurance plans.”
Friday night on Almanac, Paul Thissen and Speaker Daudt were interviewed in the opening segment, with MNsure/ACA being the chief topic. Thissen’s schtick was mostly that the DFL had proposed rebates weeks ago that would eliminate the sticker shock of skyrocketing health insurance premiums. There were 2 clear inferences. The first inference was that Republicans hadn’t proposed anything to fix things. The other inference was that skyrocketing premiums were the only thing that needed fixing.
Thankfully, Speaker Daudt fixed that insinuation by Rep. Thissen, saying that people in rural Minnesota didn’t have easy access to health care. That’s something that the DFL rebates wouldn’t fix. Another thing that Speaker Daudt highlighted was the fact that the rebate wouldn’t lower families’ deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.
The right way to think of MNsure/ACA health insurance policies is that they’re selling policies that combine Cadillac plan premiums and catastrophic policy deductibles. Back during the good old days, it was possible to buy a policy that had a high deductible but with a cheap premium. It was also possible to buy a plan that covered everything and gave people a wide network to choose from. The trade-off was a high monthly premium.
Thanks to the DFL’s stupidity, we now have to choose between policies with high premiums and high deductibles or policies with extremely high premiums and lower deductibles or expensive co-pays. What we have now is the worst of both worlds.
Joe Atkins, one of MNsure’s staunchest supporters, apparently hasn’t figured it out that the ACA is too expensive:
The good news is that the ACA has been exposed as a failure. The bad news is that we still haven’t defeated Hillary so we can replace the ACA with something that works.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, Joe Atkins, Affordable Care Act, MNsure, Individual Market, Insurance Premiums, Deductibles, DFL, Kurt Daudt, David Buck, Ann Buck, Farmers, MNGOP, Election 2016
Three weeks ago, Speaker Kurt Daudt highlighted a farming family whose health insurance premiums were literally doubling. That’s when Minnesota got introduced to David and Ann Buck. This WCCO-TV article quotes Ann Buck as saying “This is a crisis. There will be people on Jan. 1 who will not be insured.” She’s right. Unfortunately, that’s only part of Minnesota’s MNsure crisis.
Later in the article, WCCO reports that “The Bucks are among those who got cancellation notices from Blue Cross effective Dec. 31. They currently pay $1,600 a month in premiums with a $13,000 deductible for their family of four. They have been told next year their monthly premiums will jump to $3,300 a month with the same deductible. That would mean $40,000 in premiums, something the Bucks say they cannot afford.”
The good news for the Buck family is that Republicans and Democrats agree there needs to be a short-term fix for the Bucks and other families trapped in the same crisis. The bad news for the Buck family is that they never should’ve been put into this position. Now the Bucks are providing the DFL with a little well-deserved retribution:
Here’s the transcript of the Bucks’ ad:
DAVID BUCK: We run a family business on a tight budget.
ANN BUCK: The Democrats promised lower health care costs and that did not happen. Health care costs are soaring and families just can’t afford the premiums.
DAVID: Our rates are going up to $3,300 a month, $40,000 a year — $40,000 a year.
ANN: It’s insanity.
DAVID: Democrats got us into this mess with MNsure.
ANN: If we don’t vote against Democrats, we’re just going to get more of the same.
The truth is that the DFL created this crisis because they put a higher priority on achieving an ideological victory than they put on doing the right thing.
According to this Fox-9 article, Gov. Dayton and Speaker Daudt will meet Tuesday morning “at the Governor’s Residence, to discuss the possibility of addressing rising health insurance premiums.”
Sam Fettig, Gov. Dayton’s press secretary, also said “Earlier today, Dayton Administration officials met with Senate Minority Leader David Hann. The Governor spoke last night with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, who indicated he has been in communication with Speaker Daudt as well. Since announcing his proposal last Thursday, the Governor has also been in communication with House Minority Leader Paul Thissen.”
Gov. Dayton is attempting to paint the MNsure/ACA crisis as being all about high health insurance premiums. Speaker Daudt rightly is highlighting the fact that it’s about unaffordable deductibles, microscopic-sized networks and difficulties finding insurance carriers. This article highlights the difficulties people will have in buying health insurance.
According to the article, “Blue Cross Blue Shield will offer its Blue Plus health maintenance organization policy to anyone who wants it in all but five counties, but it is more expensive, has high deductibles and does not always allow patients to use their own doctors.” It won’t be people’s first choice when open enrollment opens. Blue Plus is most likely the option of last resort. Expectations should be low for this meeting. Gov. Dayton wants to pretend that he’s trying to look nonpartisan. Let’s hope Minnesotans know that he’s acting.
Gov. Dayton is praying that he gets an all-DFL legislature so he can implement single-payer health care. Speaker Daudt hopes that Republicans flip the Minnesota Senate so they can push their main street agenda. That agenda will include pushing popular health care reforms that have worked when they’ve been implemented in the past.
The key to these negotiations is Rep. Thissen. He isn’t officially in a position of power but don’t let that fool anyone. Other than Tina Flint-Smith, Thissen is the person Gov. Dayton is closest to ideologically. They’re birds of a feather. If Flint-Smith and Thissen object to what Speaker Daudt proposes, expect Gov. Dayton to hold a press conference immediately after the meeting. Gov. Dayton’s message will be simple. It’ll essentially be ‘I tried working with those evil Republicans but they weren’t willing to compromise.’
It won’t be true but that’s what Gov. Dayton’s message will be. Further, expect the Twin Cities media to buy Gov. Dayton’s story without hesitation. The good news for Republicans is that outstate Minnesota voters aren’t fooled by Gov. Dayton’s dishonest statements.
The thing that will hurt DFL incumbents and DFL challengers is the fact that southern Minnesota and western Minnesota have lots of farmers who have to buy their health insurance through MNsure. We keep hearing that it’s ‘only’ 5% of the population that buys their insurance through the individual market. Statistically, that’s true. It’s also incomplete because it doesn’t tell people that a large percentage of the people who buy their health insurance are clustered in southern and western legislative districts.
Don’t expect the DFL to do well in those districts. Those districts will help Republicans hold onto their majority in the House and give the GOP their best opportunity to flip the Minnesota Senate.
If anyone knows the definition of opportunity costs, it’s economists and accountants. Opportunity costs are defined as “the money or other benefits lost when pursuing a particular course of action instead of a mutually-exclusive alternative.” The opportunity costs of MNsure and the ACA, aka Obamacare, are staggering compared with what we could’ve had had Democrats not shut Republicans out of the process.
Whether we’re talking about MNsure’s skyrocketing health insurance premiums or the ACA’s unaffordable deductibles or the shrinking networks of MNsure and the ACA, the opportunity costs are disgusting when compared with the system Minnesotans established years ago. The federal government should’ve moved in Minnesota’s direction. Minnesota shouldn’t have moved in President Obama’s direction. The truth is that Minnesota’s system wasn’t broken. DFL politicians like Gov. Dayton, Sen. Franken, Sen. Klobuchar, then-House Speaker Thissen, State Sen. Bakk and Sen. Lourey treated it like it was dysfunctional.
Too often, the system currently in place is expensive. Prior to the ACA, and directly thanks to Minnesota’s high-risk pool, known as MCHA, aka the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, 93% of Minnesotans were insured. Further, Minnesota’s premiums were some of the lowest premiums in the nation. Finally, it’s noteworthy that half of the people who weren’t insured were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. Had those people bought insurance, Minnesota’s uninsured rate would’ve been 3.6% in 2007.
Instead, Gov. Dayton and the DFL became cheerleaders for the ACA, implementing it in 2013. Since then, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed, deductibles have went from being a little high to being prohibitively expensive. At this point, these deductibles make insurance too expensive to use. The system created by President Obama, Gov. Dayton, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Franken, State Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen is nearing a financial meltdown. Because of this crisis, Gov. Dayton has issued a proposal that’s designed to win votes, not solve the health care crisis he helped create. Here’s part of his fact sheet:
Why Provide Rebates for Healthcare Premiums?
- Any Minnesotan purchasing coverage on the individual market should first go to MNsure to confirm whether they are eligible for federal tax credits
- There are 123,000 Minnesotans expected to purchase health coverage on the individual market in 2017, who are not eligible for federal tax credits because of their income
- These individuals and families are unfairly shouldering the burden of the health insurers’ 50 percent to 66 percent premium increases in 2017
That’s insulting. These individuals are unfairly shouldering the burden that politicians created. The politicians created a system that was unsustainable. Republicans frequently predicted this outcome. Democrats frequently insisted that Republicans didn’t know what they were talking about. In this instance, reality won. The Republicans’ predictions were right.
What idiot couldn’t predict that young healthy people making modest incomes wouldn’t purchase expensive health insurance policies? It’s the cost-effective decision to make. What idiot couldn’t predict that people with pre-existing conditions wouldn’t be the first to buy health insurance?
Another statement on Gov. Dayton’s fact sheet says “Overall, the Governor’s rebate reduces the 2017 rate increases from an average 55 percent increase to a 16 percent increase.” Later in the fact sheet, it says “he one-time 25 percent health insurance premium rebate would be financed with the approximately $313 million which is scheduled to be added to the existing $1.9 billion Budget Reserves this December.” In other words, President Obama, Gov. Dayton, Sen. Franken, Sen. Klobuchar, State Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen demolished a health care system that was working but Minnesotans are paying high taxes to pay for the DFL’s disaster.
What’s worse is that Gov. Dayton’s plan doesn’t fix anything. It’s a stop-gap measure that won’t fix all the things that are wrong with the ACA. Only Chairman Davids’ plan does that.
The DFL doesn’t fix problems. It only creates them, then complains when Republicans don’t help them fix the messes the DFL created. A vote for a DFL legislator is a vote for more problems. A vote for a Republican legislator is a vote for solving problems or a vote for getting it right the first time. The choice is simple.
The politics surrounding the MNsure crisis took a bizarre turn yesterday when a politician stated that “It’s a real breakdown in the functioning of the Affordable Care Act”, then said “I take it very, very seriously. And I deplore it.” That politician wasn’t Speaker Daudt, though Daudt had some harsh words to say about MNsure.
The politician who said that the ACA was breaking down and that the letdown was deplorable was Gov. Dayton. Of course, Gov. Dayton didn’t propose a plan to fix the MNsure crisis. He left that responsibility to legislators. Whether he likes it or not, Gov. Dayton’s responsibility is that of being Minnesota’s CEO.
Thus far, Gov. Dayton hasn’t shown any leadership during this crisis. The good news is that Republicans, especially Speaker Daudt and Rep. Greg Davids, are trying to solve Minnesota’s health insurance crisis. Rep. Davids, the chair of the House Taxes Committee, pictured below, just updated Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk, Sen. Hann, Speaker Daudt and Rep. Paul Thissen on what he’s working on.
In Chairman Davids’ letter, he outlined his priorities rather succinctly, saying “We need fixes that will lower costs, help Minnesotans keep their doctors, and increase their choices.” Then he wrote this:
Create an immediate tax credit that applies to Minnesotans who purchase health insurance both on and off the MNsure exchange that has eligibility beyond current federal subsidies to buy down premium costs. If even one Minnesotan can keep their doctor or find an affordable alternative, Governor Dayton should put the full force of his administration behind lobbying the federal government to allow access to credits off the exchange.
Amen to that, Chairman Davids. Finding solutions that let families keep their doctors and plans must be part of the long-term fix. Anything less is selling families short.
Then there’s this:
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.
The ACA guarantees the right to buy insurance. Unfortunately, the accompanying high deductibles make health care unaffordable for too many families. Forcing families to buy insurance that they can’t afford to use is immoral. It shouldn’t be tolerated. If the DFL insists on tinkering around the edges of this failing system, Republicans in St. Paul and DC should remind the state and the nation that Republicans fought for solutions while Democrats fought for salvaging a failed ideology.
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.
A to the men, Chairman Davids. It’s time to tell the federal government that their plan is a total failure and that it’s time to do the right thing by American families. Once Minnesota’s system, which will be implemented thanks to Republican leadership, starts lowering costs and providing families more choice, the rest of the nation will copy Minnesota’s model.
Thus far, Gov. Dayton’s efforts have been halfhearted. It’s heartwarming to see Republicans like Speaker Daudt and Chairman Davids providing leadership in solving Minnesota’s health insurance and health care crises. It’s disheartening to see Gov. Dayton and the DFL essentially sitting on the sidelines and proposing tinker-around-the-edges non-solutions.
UPDATE: This is a copy of Chairman Davids’ letter:
Technorati: Kurt Daudt, Greg Davids, House Taxes Committee, David Hann, Health Insurance, Insurance Premiums, Consumer Choice, Provider Networks, Affordability, Leadership, MNGOP, Mark Dayton, Tom Bakk, Tony Lourey, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, MNsure, Ideology, DFL, Election 2016
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.
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.
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.