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

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Health Exchange Bill passes the House, Governor drops parts of unpopular tax plan.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dear Friends,

Last night, over the objections of all Republicans and even one Democrat, the Democrats passed the Health Insurance Exchange bill. As I told you earlier this week, this is a bad bill. I'm disheartened by what I believe it will do to Minnesota's world-class healthcare system. It is, simply put, ObamaCare coming to Minnesota.
 
A seven member board will now be able to arbitrarily limit the healthcare choices of 1.2 million Minnesotans expected to participate in the exchange. It raises taxes on premiums sold through the exchange, and those increased costs are likely to be passed on to Minnesotans whether or not their plan is purchased through the exchange. It's going to cost an astonishing $120 million dollars per biennium to operate. Compare that to the exchange established in Utah which will cost just a fraction of that. There are still unanswered questions about what private health data will be shared with what federal and state agencies, and whether or not we can be absolutely sure that our data is adequately protected.
 
And those were just the issues with the bill before it went to conference committee.
 
During the conference committee process, conferees stripped out key provisions adopted by the House. A provision that would have required legislators to purchase their insurance through the exchange was thrown out. If this is going to be such a great system, it would stand to reason that legislators should WANT to have their plans purchased through the exchange.
 
A pro-life provision that was offered as an amendment last week by a pro-life Democrat would have essentially prohibited taxpayer-funded abortions through the exchange. That provision was stripped out in conference committee despite wide bipartisan support in the House.
 
The House had made slight changes that would increase competition and choice, only to have the Senate language accepted in conference committee, severely limiting consumer choice for plans in the exchange.
 
The bill is expected to pass the Senate next week and head to the Governor's desk. The Governor has indicated he is planning to sign the bill in its current form. If you are like me, and have serious concerns about what this bill will do to our great healthcare system, I hope you will call your Senator as well as the Governor & urge him to reconsider.
 
Governor Adjusts Budget Plan
We also learned this week that the Governor has dropped nearly all of his proposal to extend the sales tax to a number of new goods and services. This is great news for Minnesota.
 
Thank you to the hundreds of Minnesotans that contacted your elected officials to oppose this plan.
 
Unfortunately, nearly all of the rest of the tax increases in the Governor's all-tax budget remain. He plans to raise $1.8 billion dollars in new taxes to fix a $627 million dollar budget gap.
 
This is irresponsible, and will not help to create one more job or put one more dollar in the pockets of middle-class Minnesotans.
 
Have a great weekend,
 
Glenn
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