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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, August 9, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Medical Price transparency is an important tool for consumers to help them make informed decisions about their health care. Unfortunately, far too often folks aren’t being adequately informed of the costs of medical procedures before receiving them. This leads to surprise billings and other problems that cause financial hardship.

To combat this problem, the legislature approved a bill in 2018 co-authored by me that expands the price transparency disclosures required of health care providers. The law was also designed to help patients price compare and increase competition between healthcare providers which should result in lower healthcare costs.

The current medical billing system is similar to filling your car with gas and then finding out what the price per gallon was after you filled up! That is irrational.

The law requires providers to maintain a list of their services over $25 that correspond with their 25 most frequently billed procedures. If you check the costs for these medical procedures you will discover that commercial health insurance reimburses at the highest rate and Medicaid and Medicare reimburses doctors and clinics at a much lower reimbursement rate. For example, for a metabolic lab test, commercial health insurance reimburses at $44, Medicare at $37, and Medicaid at $9.40.

Another interesting fact is of the top 25 medical services only Medicare denies coverage for 6 of those medical services! Commercial health insurance covers all 6 medical procedures denied by Medicare.

Medical providers usually lose money on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates and usually make money on commercial insurance reimbursement rates. Note: Governor Walz’s government health plan called “One Minnesota Care” would generally reimburse at Medicaid rates! According to a May 5th story from the Star Tribune, there are 19 rural Minnesota hospitals in danger of closing because of low reimbursement rates of Medicare and Medicaid. This directly endangers rural Minnesota citizens with dramatically less access for critical healthcare needs.

Governor Walz’s “One Minnesota Care” single-payer plan would financially damage or even close more rural hospitals. It’s clear that single-payer government healthcare would be a disaster, especially for rural Minnesota.

The transparency law became effective on July 1st of this year. I checked with a local area medical clinic and they were compliant.

This law was one of many important health care-related reforms the Republican Senate and Republican House passed during the previous 2018 legislative session.

Obamacare has seriously damaged the private health insurance market and endangered healthcare access for rural Minnesotans. We can do better by repealing Obamacare at the federal level and returning health insurance reforms back to the states. This will result in affordable health insurance and increased access for all Minnesotans. It will also provide financial stability for our rural medical providers. I will continue to fight hard to ensure you and your family have access to affordable and effective health care.

Have a great weekend,

Glenn

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