Ann and David Buck own and operate a dairy farm in Goodhue County. They currently pay $1,650 a month for their family’s health insurance. When Barb Haley introduced me to the Bucks in Red Wing, they shared with us that their premium is set to increase to $3,300 a month. They already pay a staggering $13,000 deductible, and now they may lose access to their family doctor.
Barb has an extensive background in health care. And it is stories like the Bucks’ that prompted her, and other Minnesota Republican candidates, to run for state representative and use their experience to serve their community.
Conversations with Minnesotans instruct us as leaders; they’re critical in understanding Minnesotans’ challenges. That’s why House Republicans have made it a priority over the last two years to visit people like the Bucks at their farms, schools, hospitals, kitchen tables and Main Street businesses across the state. What we have found, unfortunately, is that the Bucks’ story is not unique.
Our state was a national leader in health care. But MNsure and the Affordable Care Act are not working for Minnesota.
Earlier this fall, Gov. Mark Dayton’s Commerce Department approved increases of 50 percent to 67 percent in health insurance premiums. In October, Dayton said that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable,” but days later claimed he regretted his admission. The ugly truth is: He regrets saying it, not because the statement is untrue, but because it is politically damaging to House Democrats who along with Dayton created MNsure.
And that is the first of many issues. Anyone who is willing to deny that a problem exists — to protect politicians and win an election — cannot be trusted to fix it.
Not a single Republican voted in favor of creating MNsure. In fact, we have fought tirelessly to improve Minnesotans’ health care experience and have met fierce resistance from Democrats. In response to the latest health care cost crisis, House Republicans put forward a number of commonsense ideas to help lower costs in the short term and increase competition so we can stabilize the marketplace and ensure that Minnesotans have affordable health care choices in the long term.
House Democrats’ proposals include extending the MNsure tax to all individual health insurance plans and higher taxes on doctors’ visits. However, raising taxes on health care will only make the problem worse.
If Democrats regain control of the Minnesota House, it will mean a blank check for those who brought us the MNsure disaster and those who continue to wash their hands of the problem instead of rolling up their sleeves to fix it.
House Republicans will bring a commonsense approach to building a Minnesota that works for you.
After Democrats’ $2 billion tax increase, full embrace of Obamacare and wasteful spending spree (capped off by the $90 million Senate Office Building), it was clear single-party Democratic control wasn’t working for Minnesota. In 2014, Minnesotans elected House Republicans to restore balance to state government. With a team of legislators from all walks of life — teachers, farmers, veterans, small-business owners, and many more — House Republicans prioritized an agenda of putting Minnesotans first.
We respected taxpayers, passing a responsible, bipartisan state budget that eliminated wasteful spending and allowed for smart investments in our shared priorities. Rep. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud worked thoughtfully as House Ways and Means Committee Chair to bring state spending closer in line with family budgets.
We led the way to improve the lives of aging adults, establishing the House Aging and Long Term Care Policy Committee. Rep. Dave Baker of Willmar co-authored major reforms to increase funding for nursing homes, improving care and keeping seniors closer to their loved ones.
We stood up for Minnesota kids from our youngest learners to college students. We fought to keep $605 million of new education funding in the classroom, including measures co-authored by Rep. Roz Peterson of Lakeville providing a historic investment in early learning.
We froze tuition and in some cases reduced tuition for students at Minnesota state colleges and universities, an effort spearheaded by Rep. Brian Daniels of Faribault and fellow members of the House Higher Education Committee.
We recognized our military veterans’ contributions to our communities. Thanks to leadership by Rep. Bob Dettmer of Forest Lake and Rep. Josh Heintzeman of Nisswa, we eliminated the state tax on retirement income for Minnesota veterans.
We also passed a bipartisan tax relief bill, authored by House Taxes Committee Chair Greg Davids of Preston, which lowered taxes for middle-class Minnesotans, but was unnecessarily vetoed by the governor.
These and many other initiatives were the result of bipartisan compromise, and are evidence that divided government yields balanced legislation. Minnesota has a long tradition of shared government, and Minnesotans appreciate balance and compromise in St. Paul.
House Republicans know Minnesotans work hard. Like the Buck family, they deserve a Minnesota that works for them, not against them.
We believe Minnesota works when we have an education system that empowers families and equips students with quality learning.
Minnesota works when we allow for the creation of good jobs and increased paychecks for workers in all parts of the state.
Minnesota works when we build on our health care system to provide families with affordable health care options.
Minnesota works when we have checks and balances at the Capitol.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, vote for your local Republican for state representative, and together we’ll continue building a Minnesota that works for you.
Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, is Speaker of the Minnesota House.