I was excited to attend the Minnesota Health Care Reform Town Hall at the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance a few weeks ago, because I wanted to get a closer look at how our legislature is moving along on health care reform. The panel featured legislators from both sides of the aisle that are highly engaged in this year’s important discussions about reform.
I was impressed by how knowledgeable each legislator was about health care policy and reform. The discussion was nuanced and informed, and it gave me hope. Even though making progress on health care legislation will be difficult, there is real potential for innovative, Minnesota-appropriate solutions that have bipartisan support.
I was disappointed, however, in conservative members’ continued refusal to move forward on a health insurance exchange, which would create a central marketplace where consumers could compare insurance rates.
Conservatives continue to assert that Minnesotans do not want a health care exchange. But a December Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that exchanges are very popular—79 percent of the general population supports the implementation of an exchange, and even 62 percent of Republicans support it.
If the year passes without the adoption of an exchange bill, the federal government will begin making plans to implement a federal version of the exchange in Minnesota. This is why conservatives should be contributing to the discussion on health insurance exchanges—we can either create an innovative solution that fits Minnesota, or we can let the federal government create the exchange for us.
But instead of working towards an exchange, conservative representatives would rather implement a different program and then ask the federal government why this program isn’t good enough. Does that seem like a good solution when we have the chance to create an exchange that Minnesotans want?
The entire legislature—both sides of the aisle—should be joining in on the health care exchange discussion. That’s what Republican Senators Abeler, Davids, and Hoppe did by supporting the Minnesota exchange bill. Let’s let our representatives know that we want a fair chance at a Minnesota insurance exchange.