ST. PAUL — On March 6, the Minnesota House or Representatives took up the health insurance exchange legislation. This was a product of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) passed by Congress in 2010 that asks each state to set up an Internet portal (known as an “exchange”) for the purchase of health insurance.
This is not a free market proposal. Please do not be fooled by the word “exchange” when you hear about how this is being implemented. This is a government exchange. Never in the history of Minnesota has an entity been created with such enormous power and so little oversight.
One major concern is personal privacy. We don’t know what private health data this government exchange will collect from Minnesotans or what other state and federal agencies will have access to that information.
Equally as concerning is the creation of the unelected and unaccountable seven-member political board that will determine the future of healthcare inside the government exchange. This board is accountable to no one, will have unchecked power and will drastically affect your ability to choose your own healthcare plan.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no guarantee that Minnesotans will be able to keep their own doctor. The government exchange seeks to control the entire health insurance market in order to limit your choice of insurance coverage and prevent you from choosing your own doctor. In order to keep their healthcare affordable through federal subsidies, people will have to purchase their health insurance from the government exchange. Even the DFL chief author of the bill admitted in committee that the government exchange would reduce the number of health insurance options from more than 750 to less than 60. Given the fewer number of options, it’s hard to believe you’ll be able to keep your own doctor.
Fewer options bring higher costs. To fund its operations, the seven-member political board will levy a tax up to 3.5 percent on every plan sold within the government exchange. The projected revenue is dependent upon high participation in the government exchange. The fewer the people who use the exchange, the higher the tax on premiums will be for everyone else who uses it. Instead of lowering costs, the government exchange will make healthcare more expensive and less affordable.
Making sure people have access to quality healthcare is very important to me. However, this government exchange does nothing to guarantee better healthcare, lower insurance premiums, or create savings in the healthcare system. Instead, it’s an extremely expensive government infrastructure bill that imposes layers of bureaucracy between Minnesotans and their healthcare. Because of these reasons, I voted no on passage of this bill.
Rep. Kathy Lohmer represents House District 39B. She can be reached at 651-296-4244, by e-mail at email@example.com or by U.S. Mail at 239 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.