Opinion: Rep. Joyce Peppin on Obamacare, Childcare Unionization
Peppin on Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange legislation: "The Minnesota plan goes beyond this simple plan and creates what some believe is the most powerful and unaccountable government super agency in state history."
The following was provided by Rep. Joyce Peppin (R - 34A) in her March 13 email newsletter. Peppin represents a portion of Maple Grove and Rogers.
In this update:
1) Minnesota Democrats Expand and Increase Obamacare
Last week the new Democrat majorities in the Legislature passed the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange (HIX), legislation that builds upon—and greatly exceeds—mandates set down by the federal Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The bill contains a number of provisions, but unfortunately, is lacking in three critical areas: affordability, choice in care, and data privacy.
An “exchange,” in its simplest form, is meant to provide an online shopping experience for apples-to-apples comparisons on health insurance plans. It is to be designed in an effort to cast a wider net so that more people can buy health insurance.
The Minnesota plan goes beyond this simple plan and creates what some believe is the most powerful and unaccountable government super agency in state history. The bill establishes a large bureaucracy, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to provide “affordable” health insurance.
It’s difficult to point to the affordability in this plan. Some neutral consultants have estimated the new exchange will cause average premium costs to rise between 16 and 29 percent.
Additionally, the HIX will be run by an autonomous seven-person board that is politically appointed, lacks any health industry experts, and is exempt from legislative oversight or accountability to taxpayers. This board will have the authority to tax each purchased plan up to 3.5 percent, and influence the health insurance market inside and outside of the plan by arbitrarily picking winners and losers as to who can sell insurance within the plan.
Ultimately, the HIX does very little to improve individual and population health, lower costs, or improve health care delivery. Even Governor Dayton calls it “a big gamble,” as he did during a recent radio interview.
What’s unfortunate is the fact that Minnesota has a nation-leading health care system, and we have the tools in place to give people the health insurance and care they need—and in a much more fiscally responsible way. Now, our system will be replaced, only to be dictated by seven people who depend on federal money that will gradually decrease over time, leaving state taxpayers to foot the bill.
The HIX will begin enrolling consumers in October, with assistants (“navigators”) to help citizens navigate the online marketplace. It is estimated that 1.3 million people will buy insurance using the HIX, with the majority of them enrolled in state public programs and Medicaid.
2) Childcare Providers to be Unionized
Last week the House Early Childhood committee passed a bill that would unionize childcare providers who serve families receiving subsidized child care assistance.
A long line of providers testified against the bill, saying that they, as independent small business owners, do not want the state to come between them and the families they serve. They also said that unionization may prevent them from accepting Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) children, because the costs of union dues will outweigh the state subsidies they receive. This would trigger a domino effect, meaning that working low-income parents will have fewer options for affordable childcare.
Click here to listen to their testimony.
The move to unionize childcare providers has been ongoing for seven years. The most recent attempt occurred when Governor Dayton, through executive order, attempted to force a union vote in 2011. In April 2012, Ramsey County Judge Dale Lindman ruled that the governor’s directive was an “unconstitutional usurpation of the legislature’s constitutional right to make or amend our laws.”
The Senate has a similar bill that also includes the unionization of personal care attendants (PCAs). It is assumed the House bill will soon take a similar form.
3) Visitors at the Capitol
Thank you to everyone who has visited me over the last two weeks!
- Linda Flykt of Dayton for AFSCME Day
- Brenda Frie of Rogers and Kathy Bouley of Dayton for Occupational Therapy Day
- Jason Wittak of Maple Grove for Homes for All Day
- Harry Schmidt and Penny Lindblom of Maple Grove for Builders Day
- Teachers Jordan Ford and Peter Zurn and four students from Beacon Academy (Maple Grove) for Charter School Day
Have a great week!