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Letter: Health care goals are worth fighting for

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Over the past few weeks I’ve received several letters from people having a hard time signing up for health insurance on MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace. MNsure has had some problems along the way since opening for business on Oct. 1, and Gov. Mark Dayton is rightfully holding the responsible MNsure contractors accountable. Let’s not allow those issues to overshadow the reason for MNsure’s online insurance marketplace.

The rising cost of health care and health insurance coverage is not a new problem. In part to address the cost of treating the uninsured, Congress in 1986 passed the Emergency Medical Treatment (EMT) Act.

This act requires hospitals to treat any patient who walks through their doors, whether they can pay for that treatment. It was a bipartisan act signed into law by President Ronald Reagan that ensured all Americans the emergency room medical treatment they needed.

The EMT Act continues to ensure that all Americans who need emergency medical care can get it, no matter what some recent alarmist editorials have claimed. The problem is, emergency medical care is the most expensive kind.

The price of providing uninsured Americans with emergency medical treatment has contributed to increased costs for both routine medical procedures and health insurance premiums.

As a way to lessen those costs, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010. It provides that people can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, companies can no longer cap lifetime benefits, and there are federal subsidies to help working families pay for health insurance.

The ACA also requires online marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance plans offered by private companies in the free market.

Customers can compare plans and find the best plans for their families at the right price. States are required to either use the federal marketplace or create one for themselves.

Through 2011 and 2012, Minnesota’s Republican-led Legislature did not create a Minnesota marketplace, choosing instead to use a marketplace run by the folks in Washington.

In 2013, the new Legislature decided it made more sense to have a marketplace managed here in Minnesota where we’ve always been leaders in health care.

So here we are, addressing problems with MNsure.

Doing our best to ensure that every Minnesotan has access to quality health care.

That means striving for goals of providing more preventative care, less high-cost emergency room care, and lower healthcare costs for all Minnesotans. I think that’s something worth fighting for, and that’s what I intend to do.

John Persell

State Representative and Majority Whip

Bemidji

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