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Thissen’s MNsure exaggeration

It’s a certainty that Paul Thissen will either lie outright or, at minimum, exaggerate when talking about MNsure. Thissen’s op-ed in the Winona newspaper contains such an exaggeration.

In Thissen’s op-ed, the leader of the DFL in the House said “One of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act forbids insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. This has helped dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans, which means fewer uninsured Minnesotans are receiving care in emergency rooms — the most expensive form of health care (which is paid for by all of us).”

Actually, the ACA didn’t help “dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans” because Minnesota already had a great system for insuring people with PECs. It was called MCHA, aka the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association. MCHA was eliminated when MNsure was created. MCHA was a high-risk pool that took in people who had applied for health insurance but were rejected because they had a pre-existing condition. It was a guaranteed issue plan.

As a result of MCHA, Minnesota’s uninsured rate in 2007 was 7.2%. In 2012, Minnesota’s uninsured rate had dropped to 5%. It’s impossible to honestly say that the ACA helped “dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans” when the number of Minnesotans who were uninsured was microscopic. If Rep. Thissen had been honest, he would’ve said it marginally helped “reduce the number of uninsured Minnesotans” but that isn’t how Rep. Thissen operates. It’s all exaggeration all the time with Rep. Thissen.

Here’s something else that Rep. Thissen said that’s false:

But a consequence has been more high-cost patients in the individual market, many more than insurers anticipated. Additionally, the cost of health care continues to rise. The escalating price of prescription drugs and other procedures is driving up the cost of health care for everyone, whether they are on the individual market or receiving insurance through their employer.

That isn’t true. Republicans predicted this exact scenario. They predicted that young people wouldn’t sign up for health insurance because it was too expensive. Republicans predicted that the people who signed up were people who had the biggest health issues. They were right.

Rep. Thissen is right that “prescription drugs and other procedures is driving up the cost of health care for everyone” but that was true prior to the ACA. The premium spikes in the individual market are directly attributable to the ratio of people who use health insurance a lot and the people who don’t use it often.

Obama, Gov. Dayton and the DFL needed lots of young healthy people to buy insurance. They didn’t. They were threatened with fines and the young people said ‘no thanks.’ The DFL tried enticing them with subsidies. Young people still said no thanks. A product must be terrible when people won’t buy it even when the government holds a gun to their heads. This paragraph is especially infuriating:

Second, we must stabilize the individual market. Scrapping MNsure entirely, as Republicans have favored, would not solve the underlying instability of the individual market. Rather, we should consider Minnesota-driven solutions. For example, to reduce costs we could spread the cost of the sickest Minnesotans across a larger group of Minnesotans through a reinsurance fund. We could also improve competition and choice by allowing Minnesotans to purchase insurance directly through MinnesotaCare regardless of income. It would be naïve to say this is an easy problem to solve. We should work together as Democrats and Republicans to solve it.

At the time that MNsure was created, Republicans tried getting the DFL to not eliminate MCHA. The DFL didn’t listen. Now that there’s a crisis that threatens the DFL’s stranglehold on St. Paul, Rep. Thissen is praising the reinsurance plan.

Democrats will always do the right thing — when it’s the only option left. Even so, lots of DFL legislators, including Zach Dorholt and John Marty, are pushing single-payer health insurance. Simply put, the DFL can’t be trusted to do the right thing with health insurance.

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Authored By Let Freedom Ring Blog