By Rep. Linda Runbeck
It’s been almost one year since Minnesota rolled out its state version of Obamacare, called MNsure. How is this experiment with government-run health care working?
Let’s start with the basic fact that Minnesota’s health care is second to none. Before MNsure, close to 97 percent of Minnesotans had health insurance coverage or were eligible to procure it at very low or no cost. This was among the highest percentage of insureds in the nation. Some $160 million in taxpayer money has been spent to launch MNsure and we are no better off today.
The state had two unique programs, one for low-income Minnesotans called Minnesota Care – and one for those with pre-existing conditions that guaranteed coverage at below market prices called MCHA. Our state should have been hailed in Washington as the model. Instead, these programs are being dismantled.
At $3,197 per commercial enrollee, Minnesota has one of the highest costs per enrollee for any Obamacare website in the country.
Affordability for consumers is far from what was promised. A recent report from the Manhattan Institute indicates that Minnesotans who do not obtain insurance through an employer or through Medicare or Medicaid, face premium increases of 47 percent over pre-Obamacare levels.
We’ve all read news accounts of MNsure’s failure-plagued launch. Ten months in and MNsure’s website still cannot perform 26 of the 73 high-level functions required for a robust health insurance exchange. There are 399 significant errors in its IT system. MNsure’s economists estimate that 280,000 Minnesotans will be forced from their current health plans and be required to purchase an Obamacare plan. Thousands of other people had their personal data leaked.
With all this taking place, MNsure executives still received bonuses.
MNsure’s lack of accountability to taxpayers is unacceptable. Gov. Mark Dayton and the Democrats under single-party control (no Republicans voted for this approach), created MNsure as a superagency. It is run by a governor-appointed board of seven people who manage an annual budget of $60 million. They operate the program with no legislative oversight, arbitrarily deciding the level of premium taxes we’ll all pay and which health insurance products can be sold.
Other MNsure developments this year:
· Uninsured Minnesotans are now “locked out” of purchasing coverage.
· People without insurance with life-threatening illnesses will be forced to pay out of pocket or go to emergency rooms for care for the remainder of 2014.
· 16,000 applicants were not notified about missing information- their plans are in limbo.
· Obamacare mandates will cost schools $208 million over the next three years.
· Minnesota now has among the highest deductibles in the nation.
The bottom line is the full impact of Obamacare and how it is affecting all Americans is as predicted. Premium costs including deductibles will be much higher. Seniors may see their Medicare Advantage policy benefits reduced. And jobs? Due to the cost of Obamacare, employers seem to be shying away from providing full-time jobs with benefits. For instance, a report last month indicated that the country created a net of 288,000 new jobs; however, this is clarified by The Bureau of Labor Statistics in that: it’s because we lost 523,000 full-time jobs and replaced them with 799,000 part-time jobs!
MNsure is an example of the overreaching expansion of government control we see coming from the political left. It’s time to admit MNsure/Obamacare is a mistake and an example of how federalizing health care and abandoning the principles of insurance (actuarily determined risk and cost), and associated other policies is the wrong solution for our state and nation.