The bad, the good, the missing debate

Are problems with the website a forerunner to the eventual demise of the Affordable Care Act? Too soon to tell. But it is not too soon to recognize a number of promises the administration made selling the ACA are not happening. One example: Many individuals and small businesses are not able to keep policies they were satisfied with; the policies are being cancelled.

In testimony before Congress on Oct. 29, the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) administrator blamed this on insurance companies. Yes, insurance companies sent out the cancellation letters. They had no choice. The cancellations were necessary because the policies did not provide the coverage mandated by the ACA.

In order to offer/issue those coverage expansion mandates, many of which are not wanted or needed by all policyholders, insurance company actuaries and risk managers find it necessary to raise premiums, contrary to administration promises that most premiums would be reduced.

Insurance companies are subject to strict government oversight and regulations — for example, premium increases must be approved by the respective state Department of Commerce. In spite of that and operating under a very modest underwriting profit because of competition, they remain solvent and accumulate assets. They know how to manage their business, including sound investment practices, while limiting waste and fraud.

BOB JENTGES, North Mankato, Minn.

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I know there has been a lot of negativity lately regarding MNsure and the ACA. Well, the programs did just what they promised for my family. Under my current employer’s insurance plan, we are paying $604 per month to cover my wife. After shopping on MNsure, we found a plan that fits our needs for only $289 per month — a 52 percent drop in our monthly costs and an annual saving of $3,780. By the way, my wife retained her current doctor, clinic and hospital. Give it a try!

JOHN GROBE, Minnetonka

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In his recent commentary (“The ACA: The good, the bad and the GOP,” Oct. 28), Bryan Dowd wrote that the administration should have been more revealing to the public about the pros and cons of health care reform.

Well, yes.

Do you remember U.S. Sen. Max Baucus having protesting doctors and nurses thrown out of his Finance Committee hearings on the proposed Affordable Care Act? The medical providers were there to point out that the single-payer option had been preemptively taken off the table in favor of the administration’s ACA-or-nothing approach.

The single-payer advocates wanted to point out that the ACA, while offering advantages to some, is a complex, cumbersome and, ultimately, expensive system. The website difficulties indicate how difficult it is to tie the disparate components together into one efficient system.

Dowd is right that the public has not been presented with the relevant alternatives. We still must debate whether we wish to have universal health care, including all Americans, or whether we will continue to accommodate the needs of the health insurance companies. We cannot do both.




Walz’s commentary (the annotated version)

There is something incongruous about a commentary whose point is that the government must pass a farm bill without which farmers will not be able to “control their own destiny” (“Let’s finish a farm bill — together,” Oct. 29). That internal contradiction runs throughout the commentary by U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., but is no more evident than in this paragraph about the principles that undergird our nation. (I have taken the liberty of adding in brackets the contradictions that Walz ignores.)

“The good news is that the clouds are parting and America’s best days lie ahead [and somewhere a dog is barking]. Our nation is defined by an unshakable belief that we, the people, have the ability to control our destiny [except when it comes to educating our children, making health care decisions or planning for our retirement]. A belief that anyone can reach out and grab opportunity [provided one fills out the proper forms, secures the proper licenses, pays the appropriate fees and is among those favored industries or solicits the aid of their member of Congress to circumvent the rules] and create a more prosperous future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren [after a lifetime of creating under coercion a more prosperous present for total strangers and the benefit of government bureaucrats and payment of inheritance tax — one’s final parting genuflection of subservience].”



The writer is an aide to former state Rep. Jeff Johnson’s campaign for governor.



One side is more fractured than other

While the Alger Hiss case does provide some general context for ideological partisanship (“The seeds of American division,” Oct. 30), the case itself is not the “seed” of such division as we know it today.

While modern liberalism remains a watered-down version of FDR’s ideological vision, modern conservatism has become a multiheaded monster. The modern conservative movement is the confluence of neoconservativism (think Cheney and Wolfowitz), the Religious Right a la Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and true libertarians embodied in Ron and Rand Paul. Where is the Tea Party in all of this? Right in the middle, and it’s tearing apart the Republican Party from within. Tea Party members exhibit all three strains of conservative thought and often fail to note the contradictions inherent when trying to square biblical principle with the Ayn Rand style of social Darwinism.

Ultimately, the Alger Hiss trial and the rise of Joseph McCarthy that came soon thereafter is the history of an era defined by concrete enemies and an America that was united far more than today. Modern conservative ideology is represented by a fractured party unable to get out of its own way.




The Oct. 30 editorial listed Nate Griggs as a candidate for the Minneapolis City Council in the 10th Ward. Although his name will be on the ballot, Griggs states that he no longer seeks election.