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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A sensible path to health care for all Minnesotans

In the article appearing in this paper on Aug. 28 titled, “Klobuchar, Newberger broadcast wide differences at Minnesota State Fair debate,” Rep. Jim Newberger stated that a Medicare-for-All system would cost the federal government $32 trillion and “we need to go back to a free-market system.”

Those opposed to guaranteeing healthcare for all cite this staggering (yet highly debatable) estimate, and we are expected to fold up our tent and stick with the broken status quo. While the economics underlying any fundamental change to our health care system are certainly important, can’t we all agree that no one is able to fully participate in our society, perform at work and care for their kids if they’re struggling to receive and pay for medical care? We must find a solution.

Medicare-For-All could be likely enacted at either the federal or state level. But an interim solution is available right now here in Minnesota. In the 2017 Legislative session, Gov. Dayton and DFLers advocated for opening our existing MinnesotaCare to all Minnesotans. Any Minnesotan could access the insurance provided by MinnesotaCare at an affordable premium, about 12 percent less expensive than plans available commercially. Other than one-time startup costs of $12 million, there would be no cost to taxpayers; policyholders would pay the total premium with no state subsidy. Tim Walz, the DFL gubernatorial candidate; Michael Northbird, the DFL candidate for House seat 2A; and John Persell, the DFL candidate for House seat 5A, all support this MinnesotaCare buy-in proposal.

Recall that in 2017, Minnesota’s Republican-controlled Legislature devoted $300 million to ease skyrocketing premiums for 2017. The Legislature spent an additional $542 million to set up a reinsurance pool for the next two years that will lower rates by helping insurers cover large claims. Providing corporate welfare to the private insurance industry is the polar opposite of a free-market solution.

As the Nov. 6 election nears, we should ask all of our candidates how they propose to solve Minnesota’s health care crisis. It’s a life or death issue for all of us.

Sherry Kloha