Lower cost, higher quality, less bureaucracy and more consumer choice. That is the promise and hope of a health care reform proposal now before the Minnesota Legislature.
The plan may be the best chance for Minnesota to fix the health care problem now. With health insurance premiums continuing to rise and copays and out-of-pocket costs increasing, now is the time for the governor and Legislature to act. The problem will only get more expensive with every year we wait.
Some parts of the plan already have bipartisan support. The rest is being hammered out in a House-Senate conference committee. The governor has lent some tentative support, but recently seems to have pulled back. Thats unfortunate. Its too important an issue to put on the back burner.
The plan is bold, and to some, risky. In short, it calls for paying health care providers to keep people healthy instead of paying for the number of visits made to the doctor. It allows the veil of secrecy in health care prices to be lifted. It creates market-based competition, not competition by government mandate, among health care providers.
Like any good plan, it will cost money. Depending on how many pieces are implemented at one time, it could cost anywhere from $60 million to $1 billion. Those costs create potential roadblocks, given the states budget deficit. It may be possible, however, to implement crucial pieces of the plan, such as payment reform, without a lot of cost.
Leaders in the Legislature say now is the time for Minnesota to strike on this important issue, to be a nationwide leader in solving a problem that continues to eat up significant portions of scarce tax dollars and consumer incomes.
If the Legislature and Pawlenty can come together, this may be a legacy on par with the Minnesota Miracle system of school funding. Theres a real chance of success here, and the time to make it happen is upon us.
- The Free Press of Mankato
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.