Letters to the Editor for Feb. 3

Attention can shift to long-term health care fixes

To the Editor:

Blaine’s new State Rep. Nolan West came ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work on fixing Minnesota’s health care crisis. As the chief author of the Health Care Emergency Aid and Access bill, I wanted to write to thank Rep. West for his support of the bill which passed the House and Senate Thursday on strong bipartisan votes. Legislators know that health care has been on the minds of many Minnesota families, and I’m pleased to report we’ve delivered in the first month of session. Help is on the way.

The Emergency Aid and Access bill will mean relief for thousands of Minnesotans struggling with skyrocketing premiums. The discount will be applied automatically to future bills for those who are eligible, and is retroactive to January 1. Perhaps more importantly, the bill includes a Republican-led measure to preserve care for Minnesotans receiving life-saving treatments. It also includes key reforms that will increase options for farmers and small businesses, improve consumer protections by ending surprise billing and making rates available earlier, and bring more competition to the individual market.

Governor Dayton signed the bill into law shortly after it was passed, and I believe it’s a positive sign of things to come. With this relief bill passed and signed, it’s now time to turn our attention to longer-term reforms to fix our health care crisis into the future. We know we have to make serious changes so we don’t find ourselves in this situation a year from now. I’m grateful that Rep. West supported efforts to provide relief and the important first-steps to increase competition and choice moving forward, and know he is ready to work on long-term reforms so we can restore Minnesota’s place as a health care leader in our country.

Rep. Joe Hoppe
State Representative, District 47B
Chair of the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee

West pushing for 105th Ave. funding

To the Editor:

One of the most consistent complaints I heard from Blaine residents last fall was the outrageous costs of health care.

On Jan. 26, the Legislature addressed this topic by approving legislation that provides health insurance premium relief to our residents and reform to the marketplace, and the bill has now been signed into law.

More than $325 million will be used to reduce premiums by 25 percent this year for eligible residents and ensure continuity of care for people who were receiving treatment from a physician but lost that ability when they were forced to switch insurance plans.

Other reforms included will allow more HMO’s to operate in Minnesota, provide stop-loss measures to help small businesses, and prevent surprise billing.

It’s important to note that this just the first step towards cleaning up the health insurance mess that has been handed to us. You can expect more long term health care reform proposals to be crafted and debated in the weeks and months ahead.

Another concern many have shared centers on congestion and safety concerns near the National Sports Center. That’s why I’m chief-authoring legislation that would reconstruct 105th Avenue in Blaine.

I’ve offered two bills with differing funding mechanisms to make this happen, but both would require a $3.246 million allocation from the state and $3 million from the city of Blaine for reconstruction. Since the street is the most significant access point to state-owned property, I believe state investment for 105th Avenue is critical.

The bill would change the street near the National Sports Center from five lanes to four, complete with a median, turn lanes, sidewalk, trail, landscaping, lighting, and the consolidation of access driveways.

105th Avenue is in terrible condition and improvements are long overdue, and I’m hopeful my legislation will greatly improve area traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

If you have any legislative questions or concerns on these issues or others, I encourage people to contact me by phone at 651-296-4226 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Rep. Nolan West

Affordable protection for patients needed

To the Editor:

I am reaching out to you today on behalf of the millions of patients with celiac disease, non-celiac wheat/gluten sensitivity, and other autoimmune diseases. I am deeply concerned about the possible removal of key protections in current law that guarantee access to comprehensive and affordable insurance coverage for patients with pre-existing health conditions. As Congress begins work to replace the Affordable Care Act, we are encouraged by the recognition that affordable protection for patients should be retained.

There are four patient protections that are absolutely essential to ensure that quality, affordable coverage remains accessible for these individuals and their families:

-Prohibit pre-existing condition discrimination

-Prohibit lifetime and annual caps on insurance benefits

-Allow young adults to stay on family coverage until they are 26

-Limit out-of-pocket costs for patients

The patient protections laid out in the Affordable Care Act have provided a degree of security and certainty for Americans with serious illnesses that they now expect. On behalf of the millions of patients with celiac disease and non-celiac wheat/gluten sensitivity, we urge you to stand with us as we fight to protect broad, equitable, and affordable access to health care.

Deborah Bochenski

Hortman stood up for us

To the Editor:

I would like to add my thoughts to the health care letter by Rep. Hortman.

If the law would have passed as the GOP wanted, people in the individual market would have had two choices: 1. Skip health care; or 2. Hope that the insurance companies would wait until 2018 for payment. In addition, choice two would have probably ruined their credit ratings.

There is a concerted effort by the GOP (federal and state) to deny insurance to millions. You need look no further than the states that denied people Medicaid or refused to set up exchanges with the federal government paying the majority of the cost. They have tried at every point to “take down” the ACA.

About a month ago, Thom Hartman, a national radio host, was discussing the ACA. He reported that Marco Rubio had inserted into legislation the repeal of the “risk corridor.” This provision in the act allowed insurance companies to recoup money if the losses became to great. Insurance companies had not choice but to raise rates in order to prepare their policies for the 2017 insurance market.

I have searched the internet, etc. to see if anyone else was reporting on this. Until now. In the Jan. 29 edition of the Star Tribune’s Sunday business section, Mr. Andy Slavitt, former United Health executive and CMS administrator, reported on this and called “borderline sabotage.” I will let you decide.

If the GOP is so proud of what they do, why do they employ secretive maneuvers, poison pills, last minute budgets, etc? Who are they working for, anyway? Are they going to give up their government insurance? I would like to thank Rep. Melissa Hortman for standing up for us!

Lorraine Westerlund


  • ee76

    Lorraine, if there was a concerted effort by the GOP to deny healthcare to millions, the ACA would be repealed by now with no thought. But no, the GOP is trying to do what is best. They are trying to keep the best of it intact, trying to keep coverage for everyone. If anyone is guilty of secretive measures, it is the Democrats who said you have to wait until it is passed to see what is in it. The authors of it even admitted lying in order to pass it. In a real world, you would have read about that a lot earlier than we did. So forget about the newspapers for your sources! They were in the bag.You do realize that if the federal government pays for something, that we all pay, don’t you? That money is not free. My own healthcare premiums have gone from about 220 a month, 2000 deductible to 725 a month, 7000 deductible in the time ACA came about. That is over 500 a month MORE for a much worse policy, and I am retired. I would have to have health care costs more than 15,000 for that to make sense. So, I will likely be canceling my healthcare policy unless the ACA is reformed. If a company loses money, they go out of business. You see that in companies dropping out of the market. Heaven forbid that a company has to make up losses. Yes, companies had no choice other than to raise rates. You blame the wrong people. Democrats gave them no choice with what they demanded. How do you think they can stay in business if the lose money?????