Congratulations to high school athletes in District 29A for another successful fall season, highlighted by the state championship earned by the Annandale girls cross country team. The Cardinals had two runners finish in the top three in team competition and a total of five in the top 50 on their way to the title!
Also, hats off to the the football and volleyball teams from both Delano and Maple Lake for advancing to their respective state tournaments.
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As for legislative news, we are six weeks and $150 million in taxpayer money into Minnesota’s version of Obamacare, yet enrollment remains extremely slow. Fewer than 2,000 people are in the final process of enrolling for individual coverage. What's worse, is it is reported that up to 280,000 Minnesotans will be forced to give up health insurance policies they like, with doctors of their choosing, for policies that will be more expensive and involve services they do not want.
That means for every Minnesotan in the process of enrolling in private MNsure plan enrollee, about 140 other citizens are being forced off their current plans.
The consequences for such a shortfall in MNsure enrollment could be dramatic, further raising costs for consumers and taxpayers in general. Some projections already show individual market premiums will increase between 26 and 40 percent for Minnesotans. The MNsure Board of Directors voted recently to charge the maximum tax on health insurance allowed by law for 2014. This means Minnesotans who finally do fully enroll in the individual market through MNsure will see their policies taxed at a rate of 1.5 percent.
I have heard from many constituents whose premiums are increasing by hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. Hardworking taxpayers can’t afford to pay even more for the state-run Obamacare system created by Gov. Mark Dayton and fellow Democrats.
When Democrats put this flawed government program into law, they made a lot of promises. They said our state exchange would be the Travelocity of health insurance providing options for affordable coverage to Minnesotans. The president assured Americans they could keep their healthcare policies if they wanted.
Now, Minnesotans are being forced to give up policies they like for ones that will cost more and may not suit their needs. Bureaucrats in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., are now deciding what is best for us, telling us we need to purchase.
While our healthcare system isn't perfect, around 85 percent of Americans – and 92 percent of Minnesotans – have health insurance. Our state also has used MnCare and several programs to provide excellent healthcare for those who qualify.
Under Obamacare, more than five million people are receiving cancellation notices. The president this week responded to mounting pressure and criticism by announcing a one-year extension will be available to people who have received cancellation letters – if your provider lets you continue your policy. I question the constitutionality of him bypassing Congress and unilaterally changing a law. In any case, this is far from an actual fix and merely delays the inevitable for millions of citizens until just after the 2014 election.
There certainly is room for improvement with our healthcare system, but Democrats at the state and federal levels took the wrong approach. Technical glitches with the $600 million Obamacare website can be fixed, but key shortcomings will remain. I support upgrades regarding the things citizens care about most in healthcare: affordability, data privacy and access to their preferred doctors. Tort reform, the ability to purchase insurance across state lines and allowing small businesses to combine purchasing power – as Fortune 500 companies do – would bring real efficiencies and real savings to the marketplace.