Child care, insurance issues developing

JoeMcDonaldby Rep. Joe McDonald

Minnesota house dist. 29a

Problems with a new state-run insurance program and a judge’s decision to put on pause a vote that could unionize child care providers continue to make headlines. Here is the latest on those issues, as well as the particulars from a recent special session.

We recently learned that a Minnesota judge has upheld a petition for an injunction, blocking a vote on whether to unionize child care providers in Minnesota. This is the second time a court has blocked this push; the first time was when a judge ruled Gov. Mark Dayton overstepped his authority by unilaterally calling for a unionization vote.

This time, the Minnesota court put a vote on hold at least until the U.S. Supreme Court reaches a decision regarding a similar scenario in Illinois.

This is good news for Minnesota parents and providers themselves, who largely oppose child care unionization. Sadly, a large number of providers indicate they would no longer be able to care for children of low-income families.

I continue to say child care decisions should be made between hardworking parents and dedicated providers without union interference. Together, they know best how to provide affordable, quality care for our children.

CONCERNS WITH MNSURE

It has become quite clear that MNsure – the new state insurance program – is not ready for prime time as we draw near its Oct. 1 opening. Top concerns include a lack of data security, a misrepresentation of consumer costs and higher prices in the out-state area than in the metro area.

It was quite concerning to recently learn a MNsure employee made public the Social Security numbers and other personal information of nearly 2,500 Minnesotans through an errant email. Insurance brokers say they warned MNsure of potential problems before that data breach, but their concerns apparently fell on deaf ears.

Questions about consumer costs also are on the rise. The Democratic authors of MNsure have been saying rates in Minnesota are the “lowest health insurance rates in the country.” That is only true when you compare our rates to other states’ Obamacare rates. The truth is, MNsure’s rates are actually higher than what is available on our state’s private market today. What’s even worse is that the cost for insurance through MNsure is expected to rise by up to 29 percent – or more – by 2016.

Minnesota already has spent $150 million just to set up MNsure bureaucracy, without any money going toward actual health care like pediatric check-ups, preventative screenings for women or prescriptions for the elderly.

SPECIAL SESSION PROVIDES STORM AID

Storms in June caused an estimated $18 million in damage in 18 Minnesota counties. Relief funding we provided during a recent one-day special session will be used to help offset the cost of repairing damaged infrastructure caused by these storms. Minnesota taxpayers will cover 25 percent of recovery costs – $4.5 million – with a 75 percent match from the federal government.

Storm relief clearly was our top priority for the special session, but many of us hoped we also could use the special session to repeal ill-advised, damaging tax increases that unfortunately were enacted earlier this year. I advocate revisiting these taxes when the 2014 regular session begins in February.

 

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