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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe Schomacker (R)

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REP. SCHOMACKER OPPOSES HOUSE MAJORITY, GOVERNOR WALZ PLAN THAT WOULD RAISE HEALTH CARE COSTS

Thursday, January 17, 2019

ST. PAUL, MN — State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) is urging the new DFL House Majority and Governor Walz not to raise health care costs on Minnesotans by restoring the sick tax—a 2 percent tax levied on most patient services in Minnesota, including things like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits, and more.

 

“If you get the flu or slip on the ice, you’re going to pay this by seeing your doctor,” Schomacker said. “Reinstating this tax is an increase in health care costs for people who are suffering or are sick.”

 

The sick tax, which was eliminated as part of bipartisan legislation passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2011, is set to expire starting January 1, 2020. In total, restoring the tax would result in more than $600 million collected from patients.

 

Revenue from the sick tax currently helps fund programs such as MinnesotaCare. Schomacker said a number of alternatives exist to replace those funds, including our projected $1.5 billion surplus or cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse in our public health and welfare programs.

 

Last year, numbers from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Budget Director indicated that Minnesota is losing tens of millions of dollars per month by failing to implement periodic data matching (PDM), which helps verify program eligibility for Minnesota public programs.

 

Schomacker also noted that DHS has acknowledged that fraud within the childcare assistance program is a "big problem," costing the state tens of millions of dollars, and the non-partisan legislative auditor has released multiple reports detailing hundreds of millions in public program benefits going to recipients who are not eligible.

 

“We have many other options to replace sick tax revenue and we’ll be pushing to utilize them,” Schomacker said. “People should have the opportunity to experience lower health care costs, and we can and should do that in real numbers this year.”