Minnesotans, who have had to endure all of Donald Trump’s fantasies and falsehoods in this election, should note the similarities in House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s recent comments around the state and in other media. Correcting all of their inaccuracies would require several pages.
“Hundred of thousands of Minnesotans” will NOT see actual health insurance increases of 50 percent or more, because many people, who buy their policies through MNsure, will receive federal tax credits that will significantly lower their costs. They will NOT have to spend hours on the phone with MNsure, because its customer service has improved greatly since a bad beginning.
And while it is true that the Minnesota Department of Commerce finally “approved” the health insurers’ rate increases and enrollment caps, that approval was required to prevent those companies from following Minnesota Blue Cross Blue Shield and major insurers in other states from pulling entirely out of the individual market. Their departures are forcing about 2 million people in 32 other states to also find new coverage.
Let me say it again: Those rate increases and enrollment caps were required by insurance companies to continue offering individual policies in Minnesota. They are NOT the fault of MNsure. The rates and caps apply equally, whether individuals purchase their policies through MNsure or separately. And, again, the advantage for many people of buying their policies through MNsure is that the federal tax credits will lower those rate increases significantly. For middle-class Minnesotans, whose incomes are too high to qualify for federal aid, I support the approach proposed by House and Senate DFLers to provide help from the state.
As disturbing as the falsehoods is the hypocrisy of some Republican politicians, who are crying crocodile tears over problems with the Affordable Care Act, which they have prevented solving. Time after time, Republicans in Congress blocked changes to the ACA because they want to destroy the law, not improve it — and because they believe that the worse the ACA’s current problems, the better their chances of re-election.
Here in Minnesota, many Republican legislators have the same goal. They know they’re wrong to blame MNsure for the rising costs of health insurance, but they do it anyway. Like their congressional counterparts, they, too, want the federal law to fail, so they can return Minnesota to “the good old days,” when people bought their own health insurance and took their chances on its actual coverage. After all, it is the Affordable Care Act that protects people from denials due to their previous conditions, eliminates lifetime insurance limits and covers dependents until age 26. Republicans are also hoping that enough Minnesotans will believe their untruths to re-elect them and return them to majorities in the state House and Senate.
That would be tragic. The past year has shown us that divided government badly serves the best interests of the people of Minnesota. House Republican leaders made a $100 million mistake in the tax bill, which prevented its enactment. A divided House and Senate could not agree on a bonding bill, which left unfunded very important improvements in state colleges and universities, parks and trails, and water quality all over Minnesota. There was also no agreement on the urgently needed transportation investments to repair and improve our state’s highways, roads, bridges and public transit. One Republican legislator said: “The problem is urgent, but it’s not that urgent.”
When I was elected governor six years ago, I pledged “A Better Minnesota.” When asked what that meant, I said, “Progress.”
Since then, we have made great progress in so many areas. Yet, with just two years left as governor, I believe that other improvements are “urgent.” They include funding a 10-year transportation plan; making good early childhood education available to everyone; further upgrading our schools, colleges, and universities, and making new investments in clean energy and water quality throughout our state.
If you support those initiatives, I ask you to vote on Nov. 8 to make them possible. I ask you please to vote for legislators who will work with me, rather than against me. Legislators who want to build our state up, rather than tear it down. Legislators who understand that you, our citizens, don’t want bigger government, but rather better government.
I ask you to vote for two years with DFL majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate, in order to fulfill my pledge to you: A Better Minnesota.
Mark Dayton is governor of Minnesota.