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

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

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

DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin issued this statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gov. Dayton will sign the bill.

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

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

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

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

Then there’s this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Earlier this week, Speaker Daudt told reporters that his relationship with Gov. Dayton was “damaged.” The key question that the Twin Cities media hasn’t asked is why their relationship is damaged. The AP’s Kyle Potter opened his article by saying “Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt will enter 2017 with a ‘damaged relationship,’ the Republican speaker said Monday, foreshadowing difficulty at the Capitol when the Legislature is charged with passing a two-year budget and address other key priorities.”

Let’s re-examine what happened since mid-October. On Oct. 12, Gov. Dayton admitted that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for an increasing number of people. We’re going to need both state and federal governments to step in and do what they need to do to remedy these problems.” Since then, Republicans came up with a plan to fix the affordability part of the ACA/MNsure crisis. This chart shows the differences between the Republicans’ plan, which addressed affordability, access and other important factors, with Gov. Dayton’s bare bones proposal:

There’s no disputing the fact that Gov. Dayton is upset. What’s in question is why he’s upset. Is he upset that Republicans put together a serious plan that would fix each of the major problems with the ACA? Is Gov. Dayton upset that the DFL’s plan is pathetic and skimpy?

Gov. Dayton owes it to Minnesotans to stop acting like a spoiled brat. For better or worse, he’s Minnesota’s CEO. It’s time he put his big boy britches on and did what’s right for all Minnesotans. Lately, there’s been lots of talk from the DFL about government shutdowns. It’s time Gov. Dayton and the DFL stopped pandering to their special interest allies and did what’s right for Minnesotans.

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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.

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Speaker Kurt Daudt’s letter to Gov. Dayton calls out Gov. Dayton for shifting the goalposts after months of negotiations. In his letter to Gov. Dayton, Speaker Daudt wrote “At our December 2 meeting, we agreed to empower our members and your commissioners who know these subject matters best. Per that framework, our issue area experts have been meeting almost daily with either members of your administration or legislators from the other three caucuses. I am thankful for their continued effort towards reaching consensus. Your letter Tuesday outlining new additions to the bonding bill and drastic changes to the tax bill showed a significant departure from the progress I thought we had made.”

Speaker Daudt didn’t stop there. Later, he said “This week you took a step backward, undoing months of work by all parties. Projects that were set aside long ago have reemerged in your new proposal. For example, six months ago we agreed to not pursue MSOP Phase 2, but you are now demanding that project along with items never before included in your requests or discussions like Gateway Corridor BRT. You also wrote your intention is to use Appropriation Bonds for your requests which have much higher interest rates than General Obligation Bonds and therefore a greater cost to Minnesota taxpayers. Lastly, in your new proposal for the transportation portion of the bonding bill you preserve earmarks for your projects while stripping out our priorities that are immediately awaiting funding.”

Gov. Dayton’s bad-faith negotiating shows his true character. Actually, it’s proof of Gov. Dayton’s lack of character. Why did Gov. Dayton change things this dramatically this late in the process? Is this another of Gov. Dayton’s childish hissy fits? Is it proof that he’s a spoiled brat that thinks he can do whatever he wants without consequences? If it’s the latter, I’d suggest he look at the results of the 2016 election. His actions definitely had negative consequences for the DFL.

Minnesotans hoping for health insurance premium relief or property tax relief won’t take kindly to Gov. Dayton withdrawing support for negotiated proposals, then replacing those negotiated provisions with last-minute provisions. That’s the definition of bad faith negotiating.

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This Our View editorial in the Mankato Free Press gets it wrong. That isn’t surprising. It’s predictable. Let’s look at what the MFP got wrong.

MFP’s headline is simple: “Our View: Legislature: Make divided government work.” Let’s be clear about something. Republicans gained seats in the House during a presidential election. While they were expected to hold onto their majority in the House, it was expected that they’d have fewer members than they started 2015 with. Republicans gained a net of 6 seats in the Senate, defeating 4 incumbents, flipping 3 open seats previously held by the DFL, then losing Senate Minority Leader Hann’s district in Eden Prairie.

The thing that brought the GOP their majorities is known to everyone paying attention to this election. In district after district, voters frequently rejected the ACA, often by wide margins. What’s astonishing is that 52 of the 76 GOP victories in the House races were won with more than 58% of the vote, something that’s unprecedented in MNGOP history. In race after race, MNGOP candidates said that fixing MNsure and the ACA were the most important, most frequently, issues mentioned by voters.

Republicans have offered plans to fix the most important parts of the ACA. The DFL has offered a one-time fix for skyrocketing health insurance premiums. Factor in that the DFL created MNsure without a single Republican vote. That brings us to this indisputable truth: the DFL needs to come in the Republicans’ direction. In the vast majority of races, voters rejected the DFL’s ideas on health care.

These paragraphs are especially disgusting:

Recent news stories reported that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt “struck combative tones” for the upcoming legislative session with the Republicans in control of the Legislature. We hope both leaders get rid of those combative tones sooner than later.

The people of Minnesota find such tones tiresome. Last year’s legislative session left too much important work undone. Tax breaks for famers and small business, major bonding projects and road funding were left at the table.

There was a time when politicians worked to do what’s best for Minnesotans. That’s disappeared with Dayton. He’s done what his special interest puppeteers told him to do. It’s his obligation to move in Speaker Daudt’s direction because voters rejected the DFL’s ideas on health care. Voters rejected the DFL’s tax policies, too. Again, it’s Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s obligation to move in the Republicans’ direction on fixing MNsure and taxes.

If Gov. Dayton, Lt. Gov. Smith and the DFL insist on not listening to the message voters sent on Election Day again, they’ll soon be removed from controlling any of Minnesota’s levers of power. That’s because they’ll soon be dealing with a Republican governor and GOP majorities in the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate. It’s that simple.

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Ever since Republicans took control of Minnesota’s state House of Representatives, Gov. Dayton has thrown a hissy fit against Republicans pretty much every week. Based on this Strib article, it’s apparent that Gov. Dayton’s hissy fits will continue through the end of his administration.

In a sharply-worded letter to Speaker Daudt, Gov. Dayton said “I have not received a reply to this proposal from you or your Caucus. I left a voicemail message with you yesterday morning and have yet to receive a reply. (Your) press remarks … contained yet another round of the same pre-election attacks on MNsure, the Affordable Care Act, and me. That partisan political rhetoric is counter-productive.”

Apparently, Gov. Dayton is either getting absent-minded in his old age or he’s incredibly dishonest or a little of both. I wrote this post to highlight Greg Davids’ letter to the various committee chairs and ranking members as well as to House and Senate leadership of both parties. I wrote that post on Oct. 27. While it didn’t have legislative language, it was detailed enough to lay out Republicans’ priorities in fixing Minnesota’s health care system.

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.

I suspect that it won’t take long for President-elect Trump to announce that he’s open to granting waivers to the ACA. I further expect it won’t take long for individual states to start taking advantage of those waivers. Chairman Davids’ ideas fit into President-Elect Trump’s plan of getting rid of the ACA.

Gov. Dayton needs to stop throwing these hissy fits. They’re unsightly, undignified and intellectually dishonest. It isn’t that Republicans haven’t made proposals to fix the crisis that Gov. Dayton and the DFL created. It’s that Gov. Dayton doesn’t like the Republicans’ proposal. Gov. Dayton doesn’t like the Republicans’ proposal because it’s forcing the DFL to admit that they got their biggest policy initiative of the last half-century wrong.’

Gov. Dayton, it’s time to stop throwing your hissy fits. It’s time to put your big boy pants on and admit that the DFL got health care reform wrong. If you don’t do that ASAP, expect a Republican to get elected as governor in 2018.

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