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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Earlier this week, I joined fellow House Republicans at a press conference to urge Governor Walz and House Democrats to drop their plan to raise health care costs by reinstating the sick tax—a tax levied on most patient services in Minnesota, including things like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits, and more.

The tax is set to expire in 2020 thanks to bipartisan legislation passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2011.

I am surprised that Democrats insist on reinstating this tax—one that increases health care costs for Minnesotans by over $600 million a year—after they spent all summer and fall promising folks on the campaign trail that they would lower costs. Simply put, you can’t make health care cheaper by unnecessarily taxing it to the tune of $600 million a year.

The $600 million per year sick tax makes even less sense when you consider the state currently has a $1.5 billion budget surplus. Instead of reinstating this regressive tax that punishes Minnesotans and their families for being sick, we should focus on free-market solutions that will lower costs.

Democrats are trying to make the case that funds collected from the sick tax are needed to provide health care and other services to vulnerable Minnesotans. What they fail to mention is that the Health Care Access Fund, the fund to which this revenue is collected, can meet current obligations through the end of the coming budget cycle.

Furthermore, with a $1.5 billion budget surplus and by eliminating waste and fraud in our public programs, coupled with reining in the dramatic inflationary increases in our Health and Human Services budget, we can ensure that services are there for those who need it without increasing health care costs on every Minnesotan that goes to the doctor.

I will continue to oppose this unnecessary tax that makes health care more expensive for all of us.

That’s all for this week’s update. I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn.

Thanks and have a good weekend,

Glenn

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