Containing health care costs in Minnesota


Health care is more that just a visit to the doctor’s office or the emergency room; and a more holistic, systemic approach is essential if the state is serious about containing rising health care costs.

This was the message from various health care providers, insurers, state agencies and employers that came together to discuss universal health care coverage with the Legislative Commission on Health Care Access, which took no action.

Calling health care the “defining issue of our generation,” Tom Forsythe, vice president of corporate communication for General Mills Inc., was among the panelists calling for systemic reform.

“We believe that we need universal coverage — we support and endorse it, but not in a system that is broken,” he said.

Lifestyle changes, transparency in health care costs and provider track records, evidence-based preventive education and managing chronic illnesses are areas that need to be addressed and incentivized, panelists said.

Chaired by Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls), the 10-member commission reviews the progress of state departments and agencies involved in implementing the MinnesotaCare law.

It is also charged with making recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2008, on how to achieve the goal of universal health coverage.

Seven working groups comprised of legislators, members of the business community and organizations interested in health care reform are being organized to address cost containment strategies, public health initiatives, insurance market reform, health care for long-term care workers and single payer health care issues.