As I’ve traveled the state this year, one thing has become clear: We Minnesotans care deeply about our state, and we want to see one another succeed.
We want affordable health care, both for our own families and for our neighbors’ families. We want world-class schools for our children and for all the children in our community. We want jobs that provide good wages and benefits to support all of our families. We want everyone to be safe at home, in school, at work and in our public spaces. These are just some of the values we share as Minnesotans.
Instead of working together with DFLers to build on Minnesota’s strengths, Republicans in control of the state House — just like Republicans in Washington — got little done, and what they did do benefited wealthy, big corporations and campaign donors ahead of Minnesotans and the things we all care about.
We’ve watched the current Republican legislative leadership try to divide Minnesotans based on what we look like or where we live. Minnesotans are tired of this. These tactics don’t work to distract us from seeing that their policies favor their corporate donors — allowing them to reap bigger tax advantages and pay people less — while middle-class families continue to pay their fair share and struggle to get by.
Our different approaches to health care show the contrast between Minnesota’s Republican legislative leaders and the Minnesota DFLers who seek to replace them. After years of progress under DFL leadership, these Republicans have let Minnesota’s uninsured rate go in the wrong direction, with 350,000 Minnesotans currently uninsured. Thousands of Minnesotans struggle with insurance they can barely afford — and that doesn’t provide the coverage they need because of high premiums and high deductibles. Others with good employer-based coverage fear losing it — so they hesitate to start new businesses or make changes in their careers. This is unacceptable.
House DFLers believe all Minnesotans deserve access to affordable health care. Instead of working toward that goal, the current Republican leadership keeps siding with bad actors in the insurance industry. Republicans want to let insurance companies sell junk policies that won’t cover critical benefits like cancer screening and treatment, maternity stays, diabetes, hospitalizations and mental health.
On top of that, Republicans in the Legislature gave insurance companies $542 million out of our pockets without asking for any reforms that will help lower the cost of health care. This giveaway is irresponsible and unsustainable, and it leaves Minnesotans on the hook for premium increases next year. Despite the $542 million handout, prices went up for most Minnesotans.
DFLers will protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and implement reforms that benefit consumers instead of giving handouts to insurance companies. We’ll ensure that women’s health care decisions stay between women and their doctors and aren’t made by politicians and employers. And we’ll give Minnesotans an affordable public health insurance option by allowing them to buy into MinnesotaCare.
As the opioid epidemic devastated families across the state, Republicans in the Minnesota House sided with giant pharmaceutical companies that profit from the crisis, refusing to charge them even a modest fee to fund treatment and prevention. When horrific stories of abuse and neglect of Minnesota seniors came out in the press, these Republicans ignored recommendations from an AARP consumer work group, instead pushing legislation that advocates said would actually move us backward.
House DFLers are ready to ensure that pharmaceutical companies shoulder their share of the burden that opioid addiction has imposed on Minnesotans. We’ll work tirelessly to protect seniors — and implement the reforms they seek.
House DFLers on the ballot this year offer Minnesotans a positive direction for our future, where everyone has the opportunity to be safe, healthy and successful. Minnesotans deserve a future in which our schools are fully funded, anyone can get the training needed for a good job and college is affordable. Our communities can and should be safer from the threat of gun violence, and everyone should have access to high-quality, affordable health care.
With your support on Nov. 6, we’ll change the makeup of the Legislature and start working together to make this future a reality.
Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is minority leader in the Minnesota House.