Bill would create informational website

By Rep. Peggy Bennett

During my legislative meet-and-greets, emails or calls with constituents, or when neighbors stop to chat on the street, I routinely hear about Minnesota families’ concerns over rising healthcare costs. Last week, the Minnesota House passed our Health and Human Services bill with provisions aimed toward reducing some of these burdens.

Throughout my time in office, I’ve heard from area residents who have experienced a number of difficulties with our state healthcare exchange, MNsure. From poor service and long wait times, to increased costs and rising premiums, MNsure has caused hardship for thousands of frustrated Minnesotans. While there are many people who have benefited from this program, many more have fought the seemingly endless array of glitches, hiccups, and malfunctions that have led to, not only hardships, but sometimes dire consequences for citizens.

One of the most significant provisions in our HHS bill would transition Minnesota from MNsure to the federal exchange. Even after using $300 million to build and continually try to fix the website, our residents are facing higher premiums, decreased care options, and a system fraught with errors. Transitioning to the federal exchange allows those who’ve seen a benefit through MNsure to keep their coverage, but alleviates the headache of dealing with this failing system.

Furthermore, the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) found MNsure wasted up to $271 million in just five months of 2015 due to improper payments to ineligible enrollees. Our bill requires the Department of Human Services to implement the suggested OLA fixes in order to prevent millions more of government waste.

Many of us have also experienced how expensive prescription medication has become in recent years. Our bill creates a website where Minnesotans can compare medication prices at different pharmacies, as well as any available discounts. As prescription drug costs continue to rise, we recognize it’s important for you to find the best prices, and this website allows you to do just that.

Improving healthcare in Minnesota is a bipartisan goal this session. I’ll continue to support the House plan to cut government waste, create more transparency, and assist residents of Greater Minnesota. There is definitely more work to do in order to improve healthcare, but I see our proposal as a good place to start.

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