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Continued: Readers Write: (July 19): Southwest light rail, Alberta Clipper pipeline, health care costs, Hostess, the filibuster

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  • Last update: July 18, 2013 - 6:26 PM

Administrative costs remain an issue

The July 16 editorial (“Smart reforms on health plan costs”) essentially recommends that we “move along — there is nothing to see here.”

Actually, there is plenty that the public has been disallowed from seeing in the funding of state-funded health care. Since Minnesota privatized its health care programs more than 20 years ago, state overseers have been disallowed from auditing critical data held by our familiar health plans. They hold their paid claims records secret from state auditors for fear of revealing how much they are profiting at the public trough. This accusation is confirmed by independent auditors retained by the state to lift the financial curtain.

The editorial also buys the health plans’ line that our expense woes stem from an increase in treatment costs. Costs certainly are rising, but they are not what distinguishes American health care, in Minnesota or any other state. The administrative costs to feed our gaggle of private health plans, called “fragmentation” in the field, is what distinguishes us. Thirty-one cents of every dollar you and I send to the private health plans are wasted on administrative overhead.

The frustrating thing is that none of this expensive nonsense is necessary. We could cut out the costly health plan middlemen and provide direct service from a fund shared by all Minnesotans. We would thereby save money, yet cover everyone. A current legislative proposal, the Minnesota Health Plan, would do just that.


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Most employees knew concessions were needed

The July 17 Letter of the Day (“Twinkies return, this time as canary in coal mine”) overlooked a few minor facts about the demise of Hostess. I worked for the company for 10 years and have a little different take on what happened. As Hostess was coming out of bankruptcy, most of the employees and the unions representing them recognized that the company was struggling and agreed to concessions to keep the bakeries operating in the hope they could become profitable again — all except the bakers union (about 2 percent of the workforce), whose members’ greed got the best of them as they voted to strike, effectively shutting down the company and putting their union brethren out of work.


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Fewer appointments should need sign-off

The main problem with nominations to federal posts is not so much how long they take, or the obstructions caused by one party against the other, but the fact that so many posts need Senate approval. It makes sense to have the Cabinet posts that report directly to the president be reviewed by the Senate, but after that all posts below Cabinet level should be able to be appointed without review. If the president was elected, why can’t he/she be trusted to make appointments to federal posts?


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