SD-14 health care debate notes

Monday afternoon, Kirsti Marohn of the St. Cloud Times moderated a debate between the candidates for the candidates for the SD-14 Senate candidates and the candidates for HD-14A and HD-14B. It was the best job of moderating a debate I’ve seen other than the job the Fox News team of Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly.

Prior to the event, Ms. Marohn took to Twitter to ask for questions for the debate. I submitted a question, asking “What is the solution to the Obamacare/MNsure crisis? What needs to be done to prevent more insurers dropping out of the individual market?” It was the next-to-the-last question asked. Suffice it to say that it provoked the sharpest answers of the debate.

Dan Wolgamott, the DFL-endorsed candidate for SD-14, said “Let’s take a look at who actually raises the premiums and that’s the insurance companies and why is that? Well, it’s because the long-term costs of health care are prescription drugs, an aging population and high cost services such as the emergency room. So those are the real long-term costs but we’ve got to take immediate action to help these families who are in these situations. So we need to provide immediate relief through more tax subsidies to expanding eligibility for those so we can offset the rising costs of those premiums.”

That isn’t a solution. It’s barely a patch for a single year. The reality is that insurance companies are losing tens of millions of dollars nationally. If they can’t make money selling their product, they’ll quit selling their policies on the individual market. It’s that simple.

Zach Dorholt’s answer was even more extreme:

We have to remember that when we chose to opt into MNsure, we received Medicaid expansion dollars and those directly impacted the people I work with as a counselor. I work with people who live with serious and persistent mental illness, many of whom were kicked off of a program called General Assistance Medical Care by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty and many of those people ended up on the street. Many of those folks ended up costing the system more and that change cost some of those people their lives. If we’re going to be serious about addressing the flaw of the ACA, which is that it didn’t have a public option, and that is very frustrating. We can do that here in Minnesota. There’s three things that we can do: 1. We could pass the Minnesota Health Plan, which would be universal single-payer health care for all Minnesotans. 2. We could create our own public option, which is allowing people to buy into MinnesotaCare and 3, which I think we have to do Day One to address the rising costs of private insurance companies raised, not MNsure. Yes, MNsure is a system that has its flaws and MNsure didn’t raise rates. Private insurance companies raised rates and we need to do something Day One that gives rebates to those people who are stuck in the middle with these high costs.

In other words, Dorholt is for a single-payer health care system. That would ruin the US health care system virtually instantly because the government would set prices. That sounds good until you realize that doctors, clinics and hospitals won’t work without just compensation. Once that’s implemented, doctor and nurse shortages will appear virtually instantly.

Jerry Relph, the GOP-endorsed candidate for the State Senate, cut to the heart of the matter:

I think there’s something that needs to be pointed out here and that is that the reasons why premiums are going up is very simple. The people that were expected to sign up for these programs are not signing up for them. As a result, the people that are drawing on the resource using the insurance are causing the insurance companies to pay out more for medical care and the insurance companies are not receiving the compensation from the healthy people that will offset that cost so we need to look at that.

That’s how the Obamacare death spiral starts. Even though a significant portion of young people are eligible for IRS subsidies or are forced to pay a fine, they still aren’t buying health insurance. That means most of the people who’ve bought health care through the individual market are the patients that have the highest use of medical services.

Jim Knoblach summed things up best:

Well, MNsure is a disaster. We probably had what was the best health insurance system in the United States 4-5 years ago here in Minnesota. Only about 8% of the people in the state didn’t have health insurance. The vast majority of those actually qualified for public health care plans like MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. It wasn’t because of MNsure. They were eligible for all those things anyway. But then with the passage of MNsure at the state level and everything that went with it, it really wrecked the system we had. That’s one of the big differences between my opponent and I. Zach voted for this and I never would’ve voted for this.

It’s clear that the DFL candidates aren’t willing to agree with Gov. Dayton and President Clinton. It’s clear, too, that Republicans have a strong grasp of the issue and that they have solutions to fix this crisis.

Authored By Let Freedom Ring Blog