The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 19, 2013

Health care plan implementation gets mixed start


"We really are going to hit 'Go' on Jan. 1, and we don't want to have a huge backlog," he said.

Commissioners, like most Americans, appeared to have divergent views about whether the ACA is a looming disaster or a positive development going through a bit of a rough patch.

Commissioner Mark Piepho, a former Republican state lawmaker, said he would have preferred that states be allowed to implement their own strategies for providing medical coverage for the uninsured as Minnesota did with MinnesotaCare decades ago.

"MnSure? We're not so sure," Piepho said. "I'll leave it at that."

Commissioner Kip Bruender also suggested the ACA is causing a lot of disruption while benefiting a quarter or less of the nation's population. And in Minnesota, the percentage of people potentially helped is even lower because MinnesotaCare already was meeting the needs of many of the working poor.

"So we're upsetting the whole apple cart to help those 20 percent," Bruender said.

"The only problem with that, Kip, is if you're one of the 20 percent," Stuehrenberg said, adding that he knows a number of people who couldn't afford insurance even with MinnesotaCare. "I'd like to see some of the politicians going in there ... trying to fix it instead of trying to scrap it."

The one point of agreement is that Minnesota is above average.

"MinnesotaCare gave us a head start," Piepho said.

Claussen said the future of the reform is dependent on the technology getting fixed soon so that people can easily enroll. He also said it's crucial the ACA begin to bend downward the long-term trend of ever-rising health-care costs.

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