Last month, Minnesota House and Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would implement work requirements as a condition for eligibility for the state’s health care program (“It’s only fair: Work requirements are reasonable in exchange for free health care,” March 30). Proponents of this bill argue that it will incentivize the poor to work, possibly creating the opportunity to access private insurance through their employers and increase the tax base. Proponents further argue that the many exceptions to the bill will still provide coverage to many.
However, the core of this bill relies on the centuries-old argument that a person’s worth is predicated on their economic contributions to society and the poor choose not to contribute because they are inherently lazy. Both of these claims cannot be further from the truth. People will work if they can, and, when they cannot, it is the responsibility of the government to provide protections to safeguard the health and well-being of that person and any of their dependents. This bill (SF3611/HF3722) aims to systematically exclude the most vulnerable members of our state from a basic human right.
A person’s right to health insurance and health care should never come with a caveat. Every person deserves access to equitable, appropriate and affordable health insurance and health care, regardless of their ability to participate in the workforce.
Paige Cooper, St. Paul
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State policy that encourages work is a laudable goal. Getting more out of every Medicaid (Medical Assistance) dollar the state spends is essential for its long-term sustainability. However, the legislative push to create a new bureaucracy that every 30 days measures how able-bodied a person is and then monitors if they are working or participating in the community enough is the wrong pathway to these goals.
I work with people with brain injuries, and they want to work. Many simply cannot work 20 to 30 hours a week. Are they able-bodied? If they can’t meet the requirements, do we kick them off health care? Who is going to judge this? Who is going to pay for all this? Who is going to help people get work?
All I can think of is maybe they can all get jobs monitoring each other to make sure they all have jobs or maybe the newly created “able body panels” will be hiring.
I sincerely wish we could put all this time and energy into creating innovative ways to reduce MA complexity and paperwork, to find ways to remove barriers to health care and employment instead of blaming people for needing health care.
We need to stop this bill and get ourselves back to work on real solutions.
Jeff Nachbar, Hudson, Wis.
The writer is public policy director for the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance.
The flaw in the case that city was once more dense, could be again
Regarding the April 1 letter stating that Minneapolis was once much denser than today because it had 521,000 residents in 1950: The city’s population decreased not because we razed living units but because families stopped having four to five children. (My family had six kids living in Minneapolis.) With a significant drop in children in Minneapolis, the city had to close West High School, Marshall High School and Central High School (all closed in 1982). North High almost closed recently.
It is scary to hear city leaders wanting to get back to a population of 500,000, because back in the 1950s and ’60s, only one parent typically worked, and families typically only had one car (my family would pack the eight of us in our station wagon — without car seats). Now we have two parents working, mostly driving cars, and parents driving kids all over the place for traveling sports and other activities. Yes, it gets old when drivers have to wait three cycles at the traffic light in our neighborhood or when it takes an hour to drive across town for a little-league softball game. This is why residents are wary of increasing Minneapolis’ population to 500,000.
Patrick Smith, Minneapolis
The writer is the city planning director for Excelsior.
ENBRIDGE PIPELINE PROJECT
Replacement or not, don’t trust
Regarding the April 2 letters and other coverage about the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project:
Here’s the thing. A buried (not visible) oil-carrying pipeline can leak undetected for a long time. From all I’ve read, it’s not if, it’s when.
Mary Bowman, Minnetonka
THE BIG SCREEN
I didn’t see insensitivity in ‘Isle of Dogs,’ and I should know
I’ve read many comments criticizing the Wes Anderson movie “Isle of Dogs” for its racial insensitivity (including “ ‘Isle of Dogs’ — homage or appropriation?” April 1).
Really? I am a native Japanese. I am a human-rights enthusiast. And I loved “Isle of Dogs”!
Yes, I found depiction of some “things” in the movie to be culturally incorrect. For instance the clothes, furniture and scenery sometimes looked to me more like those of China rather than Japan. But the exaggerated caricature or action of the Japanese people did not offend me a bit. The animation very effectively depicted the characters, and it was artistic and hilarious. The people were far from the grotesque Japanese landlord in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” for example, which I despise. I saw no racism in “Isle of Dogs.” In fact, I hear Mr. Anderson is a big fan of Akira Kurosawa, and he references the Japanese internment during World War II. I applaud him for his interest in and sharing of Japanese culture and history. Given today’s racially and politically charged environment, it’s easy to get hung up on the race issue alone, but let’s not dismiss the value of arts and entertainment.
Saiko McIvor, St. Louis Park
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In response to the April 1 article about “Isle of Dogs,” I will quote Louis Dega (a Frenchman played brilliantly by Dustin Hoffman in the 1973 film “Papillon,” even though he didn’t speak French): I’ll leave judgment to God and small children.
John R. Fyle, White Bear Lake
THE SMALL SCREEN, PART ONE
Roseanne is the new Archie
The “Roseanne” show has been a hot topic this week. I saw several opinion pieces about boycotting the show because the show’s creator, Roseanne Barr, is a Trump supporter. We are now debating whether to watch a sitcom.
What if I give Roseanne a chance, just because I could use a little humor these days? Maybe even at my expense. Remember Archie Bunker? He and his son-in-law, Meathead, clashed in the 1970s, and we shared their debates about bigotry and misogyny and populism. Many of us saw Archie as an archaic old fool. And we all loved him for those few moments where he seemed to grasp a new idea.
We could use a 21st-century Archie to understand how far we’ve come, and how much there is to lose. A sitcom might just get us talking again.
Mary Alice Divine, White Bear Lake
THE SMALL SCREEN, PART TWO
When Microsoft talks tools …
Watching a Microsoft AI commercial featuring the rapper Common where he asks, “What’s a hammer without a person to swing it?” brought this to mind: Couldn’t that same logic be used with this question “What’s a gun without a person to pull the trigger?”
The answer in both cases is that the hammer and the gun are nothing but chunks of metal without having someone to engage them.
Mike McLean, Richfield
ARMED SCHOOL SAFETY
The tool’s limits
Those advocating an armed presence in our schools should note that the Sacramento officers involved in the shooting of Stephon Clark fired 20 rounds and missed 12 times.
It’s a good thing there weren’t any others present.
James M. Hamilton, St. Paul