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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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Fearmongering In America - Making Us Wimps?

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 10/24/14 19:17, Edited: 10/25/14 00:00

by Dave Mindeman

Republicans must think that US citizens are all wimps.

I mean they seem to think that we are scared of everything. Ebola, ISIS, the IRS, Taxes, our shadow....

I find it a little insulting that the Republicans in the US House of Representatives think that I cannot understand scientific explanations of how the Ebola virus works and the protocols that can prevent it. They tell me that I should want to shutdown air travel....and not trust the CDC to give me proper information.

I should be scared - and that means to vote against those Democrats.

On the one hand, the GOP puts out this message that the US is the most powerful nation on earth. We are not afraid of anybody and can take on anything. USA!

Then, on a dime,they turn it around and expect us to cower in fear at the very mention of ebola. To hide behind the closet door when ISIS is discussed. To live in constant terror because Democrats are in the government.

When they give us these dire warnings, they seem to forget that it is the Republican House GOP Majority that controls the purse strings of government and has for the past few years. They have blocked funding allocations for critical research. They voted for the sequester and the defense cuts.

They have an Intelligence Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee and a Defense Appropiations Committee which are supposed to analyze our defense posture and then translate that into proper funding mechanisms.

They are as much at fault for any ISIS problems or ebola shortcomings as any of the Democrats or the President.

Yet, they sound the alarms at every opportunity. Run away, America. You are not safe. Elect Republicans before it is too late. Don't listen to anyone behind the curtain. Run, run, run.

It is a shameful exhibition, but unfortunately fearmongering works in the way we do elections. You can say anything in a 30 second sound bite. You can make scary pictures in a lit piece and mail it anywhere.

Yes, America is the greatest country on earth - except when it is not.
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