On behalf of the more than 10,000 members of the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), I am writing in response to “We’ve begun to treat our nation’s regulatory disease” (Jan. 18) by U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis.
In medicine, accurate information is necessary to craft the best treatments for patients. The same should hold true in crafting public policy that affects the lives of Americans. The MMA agrees with Lewis that changes are needed to address gaps in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But changes must be based on accurate information. There were several points in his piece that need more clarity.
Despite its limitations, the ACA has helped Minnesota achieve an all-time-low uninsured rate of 4 percent and has brought peace of mind to many patients with preexisting conditions.
Evidence does not support the claim that employers are dumping “part-timers onto bureaucratic exchanges.” In fact, according to a 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation employer survey, more employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent workers who offer coverage say they shifted or plan to shift workers’ hours from part-time to full-time status to make them eligible for health benefits (7 percent) than say they shifted or plan to shift workers from full-time to part-time status to make them ineligible (2 percent).
The suggestion that thousands of people are “getting shoved into a default option” insurance plan fails to explain that such automatic enrollment helps protect people from having gaps in insurance coverage and that they are allowed to make a change if they dislike the option selected for them.
Finally, the quality of health care in Minnesota has consistently been shown to be the best in the country — we were again ranked No. 1 in the recent state scorecard by the Commonwealth Fund. It is disappointing that Lewis suggests that there is a need for “a return to quality health care for all Minnesotans.” The hardworking doctors, nurses and other care providers in Minnesota would disagree.
The MMA looks forward to working with Congress and local leaders to ensure that accurate information guides changes that will help all patients receive the best of care at an affordable price.
Dr. David Agerter is president of the Minnesota Medical Association.