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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Strib Endorses Kline With Convoluted Reasoning

Category: John Kline
Posted: 10/25/14 11:21

by Dave Mindeman

The Star Tribune endorsed Kline again - like they did last year. Their reasoning included convoluted statements like these....

It's that expertise, and a strong record of getting serious legislation enacted, that has earned Kline a return trip to Congress despite a reputation that has been tarnished by his coziness with for-profit colleges.

Voters would be shortsighted to dismiss a candidate with Kline's clout. The silver-haired representative deserves their support, with the caveat that he needs to more aggressively hold disreputable for-profit colleges accountable.


As for that serious legislation that he has enacted, here is the list:

Kline has struck an impressive balance between enacting major legislation (workforce training, steadying student loan interest rates) while still tending the home fires. An example: Kline was a strong advocate for building a new overpass for a dangerous Hwy. 52 intersection in Goodhue County.

Kline's work on legislation to protect child sex trafficking victims is also commendable, as is the legislative fix he championed to help members of the Minnesota National Guard and other soldiers get overdue bonus pay. In addition, Kline has cast sensible votes to raise the debt ceiling and resolve early 2013's "fiscal cliff." He was not among his party's radicals.

Workforce training was enacted after the House Majority rejected extending unemployment benefits over and over. The student loan "steadying" resulted in an increase in rates from 3.4% to 5.9%. (Really?) The sex trafficking legislation came just recently....and who is going to be favoring sex trafficking for kids? The National Guard bonus pay could have been put in last year's endorsement because it happened last term. And Kline's "sensible" votes? The debt ceiling vote came after he stood with his radical friends in a previous vote that got the nation's credit rating downgraded and caused a near stock market crash....and of course, TARP.

In six terms, Kline has a handful of these "bipartisan" success stories. And most of them come just prior to election cycles.

But what I find especially gauling is this....

He's also capable of putting on impromptu foreign policy seminars when he sits down with the Editorial Board, using knowledge complemented by his 25 years in the Marine Corps and his travels to war zones while in office.

Seriously? Military expertise? John Kline supported the Iraq War debacle. He has supported keeping troops everywhere. And he supports more boots on the ground in our current conflict with ISIS. Kline loves war.

The idea that he can regurgitate his military travels can't make up for the fact that he is completely wrong on foreign policy.....and totally out of step with the feelings of his district.

The Strib endorsing Kline was expected. They like the idea of having a House Committee Chair to talk to.

But their reasoning is ridiculous - and being bought by the For Profit College lobby is not something to be dismissed as an after thought.
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About Those MNSure Weighted Rate Increases

Category: Health Care
Posted: 10/25/14 10:58

by Dave Mindeman

Republicans have latched onto this idea of MNSure rates being calculated by a "weighted average".

Let's examine that.

The weighted average assumes that the same people will renew the same policy they chose last year. If Policy A is chosen by 10 times more people than Policy B, then the increase in Policy A is more relevant.

Here is the problem with that.

The MNSure exchange is a market place. If the policy holder thinks that the increase in premium is unwarranted, they can shop for a new policy at a different price. The number of people renewing policies could be completely different.

So the weighted averages would then be meaningless.

Sure, you can calculate a hypothetical number from that scenario and yes, it could be valid. But using a straight average like the Commerce Department did also has merit and is just as valid a number.

Also, let me address this idea that the administration "coerced" lower rates from the insurance carriers.

Well, I sure as hell hope they did.

You have regulators for a reason. Utility rates are always subject to intervention by the utility commission. They affect the final rates. The ACA also has regulators watching insurance rates - I'm not sure they have the regulatory power that the utility regulators have, but there job is oversight on rates that gouge.

They should be offering their opinions on rates and pointing out problem areas.

That is the whole idea in keeping rates affordable.

I know it is important and desperate for the MN GOP to keep attacking MNSure....after all, they have virtually nothing else of actual relevance to attack, but it is a convoluted one at best.
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Reps. Wills And Mack - They Want To Take Away Your Health Care

Category: DFL 2014
Posted: 10/24/14 23:51, Edited: 10/25/14 00:05

by Dave Mindeman

Our local weekly newspaper, The Sun-Current, puts out a questionnaire that the local legislative candidates get to answer. They get it about 10 days ahead, so they can take some time to think about it.

Rep. Anna Wills, R -Rosemount, Apple Valley, is running against DFLer Denise Packard. Wills answered the following question:

Health care: MNsure, the state's health care exchange, has come under heavy criticism since its creation. Is it serving its purpose? Do you advocate any changes, or should it remain as is?

And here was her response....

MNsure's roll-out has been a great disappointment, and has caused hassles and headaches for far too many Minnesotans. It was extremely disappointing that the majority blocked every Republican effort last session to improve MNsure. Bills and amendments to improve accountability and transparency, ensure more expert input on the MNsure board, and to create a more competitive marketplace were blocked or not even given hearings. Since full repeal will not be an option with a DFL-controlled Senate, we need to work together next session to implement these common-sense solutions to lower costs for families and make MNsure more user-friendly.

OK - I tried google to find exactly what Republican ideas were brought forward to "improve" MNSure during the process of bringing it into being. I had limited success. There were some things involving the MNSure Board which were vaguely improvements....but for the most part, the Republican "improvement" was simply to repeal it.

And Wills pretty much admits that this is still her preferred solution.... "Since full repeal will not be an option with a DFL-controlled Senate.." Sounds like a legislator who wants to take away your current health care and replace it with ?????

When Wills says, accountability and transparency, what she seems to be saying is that we need better ways to get data we can criticize, because to actually improve something, you have to believe in its existence.

Anna Wills does not.

Minnesota Republicans take every milestone that MNSure has gotten through and have tried to tear it down. They didn't accept the final enrollment numbers. They don't believe that Minnesota's uninsured rate has decreased (even though it has - down to 4.9%). They don't accept that the initial rates were the lowest in the nation (even though they were). They criticized the system when Preferred One pulled out (even though the company had submitted a flawed pricing structure and left because of business reasons). And then they criticized the administration for not releasing the rate data before the election (and then Dayton made sure they did). And then they criticized the rate increases of 4.5% as bogus (and they still try to manipulate the data to prove otherwise).

Wills and Rep. Tara Mack, who happens to represent the "A" side of the same district as Wills (which is Apple Valley), have both been critics of MNSure from the beginning - but still offer no solutions or enhancements. They simply want you to lose your health care and start over.

(By the way, Mack's opponent is DFLer Bruce Folken.)

In fact, let's look at Tara Mack's answer to the same question:

I'm passionate about making sure Minnesotans have access to affordable quality health care. Unfortunately, MNsure - the state agency charged with implementing Obamacare in Minnesota - has fallen short on its promises. As someone who sits on the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee, I've been troubled by how MNsure has operated - particularly the fact that MNsure executives received thousands of dollars of bonuses from taxpayer dollars while Minnesotans were struggling with getting coverage through the MNsure website. We need more transparency from the leadership of MNsure as well as patient-centered and market-oriented reforms to begin to fix the problems and lower costs for Minnesotans.

Same song - same verse. But Mack says she is passionate about affordable quality health care. She just has no idea how - but is certain that MNSure is not the way to do it. She says MNSure has fallen short on its promises. But that is not true. MNSure promised to bring us health care we can afford. It did. It brought the lowest rates in the country and allows access to the ACA's subsidies that bring the costs down even lower. And it promised to lower our state's uninsured rate - and it has done so. Mack has that seat on the Oversight Committee, but all she uses it for is to criticize and find fault - with no suggestion of solutions. Vague general terms like "patient-centered and market-oriented reforms" mean little without substantive outlined programs behind them. The truth is that the MN GOP has no alternative to offer - never has. They want to tear it down with no plan to rebuild.

If we are to make real progress in health care in Minnesota (and Minnesota is always a leader in the health care field) then we can't go backward. We need to build on what has been accomplished, and there has been great strides.

On the flip side, the DFLers had more tangible ideas....

Bruce Folken 57A

MNsure got off to a rocky start due to website issues, but health care is not just a website. Complicated websites like this can and will be fixed. Consultants were depended on and they failed - miserably. From personal experience and talking to many who have been impacted there are more positives than negatives. Positives include: fewer uninsured; pre-existing condition issues resolved, children under 26 on parents' policy OK; Medicaid offered to more and closed prescription "donut hole." Still need work on treating mental health issues. Repealing the law would be a mistake.

That is the list of what the ACA can do and is doing. Yes, the website was pretty horrible, but the actual implementation of the law has done what it promised. And with Folken we can work on website fixes and keep the law doing what is was intended to do.

Denise Packard, 57B

Over the past 20 years I have many stories regarding the effects of illness and disease on people's lives. Illness and disease have no regard one's status and everyone needs to access health care. The Affordable Care Act helped 8 million Americans gain health insurance, a big step forward. MNsure's website was a disaster and rates are increasing, but 300,000 Minnesotans have health care because of it. It would be foolish to take that away. We judge MNsure in regard to that success. I will continue, with my knowledge and understanding of health care, seeking improvements that will benefit all.

Packard has worked in health care for her entire career. She has actual experience and understanding about how health care outcomes need to be made positive and sustaining. She can work on actual improvements; ideas that make sense. Again, looking to move on - not go back.

If we really want to go forward, then we have leave Tara Mack and Anna Wills behind, and let Bruce Folken and Denise Packard take up the battle to make MNSure the best exchange in the country.
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