The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 26, 2013

Dayton defends MNsure from critics, potential challengers


While most other states have turned down the opportunity to implement major parts of the law themselves, Minnesota has gone in the opposite direction. In addition to creating a state-based insurance exchange, it's opted to expand Medicaid and to offer a basic health plan for people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford an individual plan on the commercial market.

All that happened on Dayton's watch.

GOP candidate Scott Honour has been linking Dayton to Obama and the Affordable Care Act to raise money and to connect with voters through social media.

"Obamacare and MNsure continue to show shocking signs of incompetence, these big government failures point to the fact that we need true leadership now in Minnesota. Do you agree?" he recently wrote on his Facebook page.

Opposing MNsure puts the GOP candidates at odds with some powerful advocacy organizations that generally support Republicans. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the state's largest business group, and Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, an organization that opposes abortion, have backed the creation of a state-based insurance exchange.

University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said it's possible that MNsure's appearance in the race is momentary. Until the state Republican Party has nominated a candidate, Dayton's opponents are in the business of appealing to the base.

"The base of the party feels very intensely about [Obamacare]," he said. "It's feeding red meat to the Republican Party."

But whether MNsure — or the Affordable Care Act as a whole — crops up in the general election remains to be seen.

"What happens in the general election is going to depend on what happens with MNsure," Jacobs said. "It if succeeds as projected, then I think Republicans — as electoral necessity — will tweak their message from opposition to better management."

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