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State Representative Erin Murphy

331 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-8799

For more information contact: Zachary Stephenson 651-268-1644

Posted: 2007-02-01 00:00:00
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NEWS COLUMN

Choosing the Path to More Affordable Health Care


In the recent article, “Plan to insure kids cut back at Capitol" Star Tribune reporter Patricia Lopez outlines the various legislative proposals to cover all children with health insurance. Lopez acknowledges the Governor’s fading support for this proposal, funding coverage for just 13,000 or the 60,000 uninsured Minnesota kids in his budget. Lopez also identifies the competing proposals emerging in the Senate. Truth be told, there are multiple proposals in each house of the Minnesota Legislature. The trick for legislators, advocates and citizens is recognizing the elements of reform that will make health care more affordable and available for Minnesotans.

The weaknesses of the American health system are well documented. It is expensive, the results are unsatisfactory, too many people lack coverage and, as a result, do not get the care they need when they need it. Employers are shifting the cost of coverage to employees, pinching family budgets and instilling a sense of insecurity about health coverage going forward. As a whole we are aging and as a result, health care utilization will increase.

It is hard to clearly understand the price of health care. We have heard a lot about high administrative and drug costs. We hear less about the price of hospitalization, specialty clinic revenues, over utilization and specialty provider salaries; each contribute to the rising price of health care.

The challenge we face is how to organize health care financing and delivery better to make prices more affordable, care accessible for those without and slow health care inflation for everyone. Even more fundamentally, we must identify the measures that will yield health for both individual Minnesotans and our population as a whole.

There are multiple proposals intended to reform health care in Minnesota. While each proposal has strengths and weaknesses, within the proposals are the elements of reform. The test for us is recognizing and sifting out the ideas that will drive progress. In this case, we need to broaden our conventional measures of health policy; liberal versus conservative, public versus private, wholesale change versus incrementalism. We must find the best of the proposals; those that will move us toward a healthier population and toward health care we can all afford when we need it.

There are multiple proposals before the legislature including efforts to attack the rising cost of care, to address small employers difficulty with access to coverage and to increase efforts to prevent disease and promote health. These are all ingredients of a larger solution. As a member of the House of Representatives, I am committed to the passage of House File 1, the Children’s Health Security Act. When enacted, it will immediately advance the coverage of Minnesota's uninsured children and that is a good in and of itself. But even more importantly, it creates a path for the necessary discussion about how to move a set of good ideas into policy and then into practice, yielding a system that aligns the funding and provision of health care with the goal of a healthy population.

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