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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

MAK's Nuanced Support for MN Health Plan Is Concerning

Category: Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Posted: 06/22/10 01:29

by Dave Mindeman

When I discuss the DFL governor's race I am assuming everyone understands that I am speaking from my own impressions. When I see something that bears discussion, I'll offer an opinion and it is just that -- one opinion.

I say this because there is an item from MPR that needs to be discussed. It is about Margaret Anderson Kelliher and her views on single payer health care.

I was a delegate to the state convention. Kelliher won the endorsement by getting a little help from labor and a little help from some of the other candidates.

As Speaker, she did not start out as a supporter of single payer and she never put the force of her office behind the Minnesota Health Plan, although she claimed to have changed her mind on support for this issue late in the last legislative session.

Her post leg session/pre-endorsement campaign was full of single payer support. I have heard her talk about how she "saw the light" and was now on board.

At the convention, an important moment occurred when she promised Senator John Marty that she would pledge her full support to get the Minnesota Health Plan into law within 2 years. Marty based his support of Kelliher on this pledge.

But the post-endorsement Kelliher is hedging and backtracking. The change is noted in the MPR article this way:

But even though she continues to stress her commitment to single-payer at campaign events, Kelliher is sounding more cautious about it. "I've always had the caveat that said that the cost study has to be done and Sen. Marty knows that as well," Kelliher said. "We need to have the cost study done to fully understand how we get it done and how quickly we get it done."

The letter that Kelliher sent to Marty doesn't talk about caveats. It was a clear statement of support with which John Marty reciprocated.

Now we hear a different pledge....

"By the end of four years, I believe we will have universal coverage in Minnesota with all Minnesotans with health care," she (Kelliher) said.

That statement doesn't say two years and it doesn't say single payer.

Now, to be fair, Marty still seems to be OK with this change...

Kelliher said the cost study could take a year. Neither she nor other supporters know the price-tag of a single-payer system, but Kelliher says she's still committed to it. John Marty believes a single-payer system would cost less overall than the amount Minnesotans currently spend on health care. He said he's not concerned Kelliher is stressing the need for a cost study.

Marty may not be concerned, but I think others are. One of the basic premises behind single payer is that overall health expense will drop dramatically. Marty has stressed that repeatedly and if MAK was truly studying the issue in detail, she would be realizing that as well.

I guess we need to give Kelliher the benefit of the doubt on this for the time being. But it is concerning that she would be willing to make unequivocal statements at the convention to secure an endorsement and then equivocate all over the place afterward.

If somebody can clarify this for me, I am certainly listening.
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