While some states are opting out of President Obama's health care programs, Gov. Mark Dayton wanted it known Tuesday that he's all-in.
"I write to reiterate the State of Minnesota's intention to continue the planning and development" of a state-based version of the federal health care act, Dayton wrote in a letter to the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. "We will seize the historic opportunities to improve the quality and affordability of health care afforded us by the new law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, whose constitutionality has now been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court."
Dayton sent a separate letter to top Republicans in the Legislature, inviting them to come to the table to work on the state's plan for a health insurance marketplace that would make it easier for Minnesotans to find the most affordable health insurance -- now that having health insurance will be mandatory.
"I again invite your Caucus to join in this important initiative," the governor wrote in a letter to the House and Senate Republican leadership on Tuesday. "By working together, we can make this project non-partisan and maximize its benefits for all Minnesotans."
For Republican critics, however, the Supreme Court's ruling didn't close the book on their concerns about the health care mandate. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal the law if he wins the November election.
"It is a very controversial issue in our caucus," said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, who had not seen the letter as of Tuesday night. "The Supreme Court ruling does not make it any less controversial. In some ways, it makes it more controversial."
Dayton and the GOP leadership will sit down today to discuss plans for a possible special session this summer to direct flood relief to northern Minnesota. In his letter, he noted that the health care exchange is an idea first proposed under Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration.
The federal government requires states to come up with their own state-based health care exchange by January of next year, or be placed into a federal exchange.
The Supreme Court ruling gave states the option of opting out of a provision of the new health care law that would expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of impoverished adults. Dayton's letter came one day after Texas Gov. Rick Perry became the latest Republican governor to announce his state would opt out of the expansion.
"The ultimate success of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will depend on states' willingness to serve their citizens' needs for the best possible health care at the most affordable prices," Dayton wrote in his letter to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "State leaders who choose to obstruct the implementation of this new law rather than help it realize its fullest potential, clearly establish themselves as part of the problem rather than the solution to providing Americans with affordable health care."
Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049