Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Where should some of the HHS cuts come from?

Part 3 of a 3-part series

By Brian W. Grogan

Where should some of the cuts come from?

First, we should be reducing welfare fraud by hiring auditors to eliminate the estimated $10 million in fraud already identified.

Secondly, we need to pay monthly welfare benefits that are in parity to neighboring states so as to reduce the incentive for non-residents to migrate to our state solely for better monthly benefits. We need to enact legislation that denies welfare benefit coverage to people who have lived less than 6 months in our State. We need to deny health care coverage to non-resident Minnesotans and illegal immigrants. In addition, MNCare (State of Minnesota’s Health Care assistance program) should not be available to parents who earn over $30,000.

We also need to understand that the health care system challenges in Minnesota are due predominately to our regulations and laws. Since the early 1990s, legislative leaders have been meticulously building a government-run health care system by passing laws that require private citizens (you and me) to buy more and more coverage benefits whether we want them or not (coverage mandates). In addition, our legislators have passed laws that effectively limit our access to health insurance providers (limit competition). Thirdly, our legislators have refused to pass tort reform.

Minnesota has more mandated coverage requirements (in 2008 there were 64 mandates) than any other state in the nation. For every one mandated coverage requirement, we pay an additional premium so it shouldn’t surprise us when we discover that Minnesota residents pay some of the highest health care insurance premiums in the nation. For example, a 25-year-old must pay for hearing aid coverage and a 55-year-old must purchase fertility drug coverage.

In addition, Minnesota lawmakers have erected barriers to entry of health insurance providers which means our choices are purposely restricted. We are essentially forced to purchase coverage from three companies who control nearly 90 percent of Minnesota’s market.

Do we have a health care crisis in our state? Minnesota has the highest number of insured people (93%) in the nation. We don’t have a health care crisis in our state. We have a health care insurance regulation problem. If we restrict health and human services (HHS) MinnesotaCare access to non-Minnesota residents and illegal immigrants as well as pass legislation to address mandates, tort reform and restricted competition, we could dramatically reduce the growth of HHS.

Brian Grogan, Minnetonka, was the Republican-endorsed candidate in state House District 43B in 2008.

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