ST. PAUL, MN — Minnesota House Republicans held a press conference Tuesday 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. The 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 a more than $600 million increase on health care costs for Minnesotans next year alone. Over the past week, Governor Walz called it a "nonstarter" to end the tax, and DFL House HHS Finance Chair Tina Liebling said it was "essential" to restore the tax or replace its revenue.
"There is simply no reason to be raising health care costs on Minnesotans," said Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook. "Minnesota has a $1.5 billion surplus, the Democrats' infatuation with restoring a tax on those receiving medical care is non-sensical. This should be something we all should agree on: don't raise our health care costs."
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 implementing periodic data matching (PDM), which helps verify program eligibility for Minnesota public programs. 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.
"House Democrats sand Governor Walz promised Minnesotans last fall they would work to lower the cost of care," added Deputy Republican Leader Anne Neu, R-North Branch. "We are calling on Democrats to make sure their actions this session live up to their words."