The Minnesota Health Plan


by Erica Mauter • I think we can all agree that our health care system is f’ed up. There are so many parts to it that just do not work and it gets more and more expensive to deliver arguably equal value. is a cityblog for and about life in the Twin Cities, published by Erica Mauter. Contact

I know when I think about it, it just seems hopeless. The scope of needed change is so far-reaching. There are service providers, insurance companies, corporations, and don’t even get me started on the pharmaceutical industry and the cost of drugs.

But then, Massachusetts has already tried something. So when I read that there’s a plan for health care reform in Minnesota, I was pretty frickin’ excited, even though it kind of boggles my mind that there even is a plan in the first place. I mean, they’re proposing it could be implemented within a couple years!

Some say that providing good, affordable health-care coverage requires additional state revenue expenditures to subsidize the cost. But with the state’s $5 billion-plus deficit, it’s hard to see how that can happen. As it is, there will be desperate fights to maintain existing health care spending. Any improvements, the reasoning goes, must wait until the economy improves.

That’s where the Minnesota Health Plan comes in. Rather than competing for vanishing general revenue, this proposal (introduced last year as SF 2324 and HF 2522, with more than 50 co-sponsors) would achieve affordable, universal coverage by restructuring the overall financing of health care. A unified public plan for all Minnesota residents would be created with standardized comprehensive benefits, no copays or deductibles, full choice of providers, and financed mostly by a sliding-scale premium, according to household income. It would reduce and hold down overall spending by eliminating the huge administrative waste of our current multi-insurance system, create a common-sense distribution of expensive equipment and facilities, negotiate for reduced drug prices, hold down excessive fees for acute care, and emphasize primary and preventive care. (More information is here.)

Plus, one of the bill’s authors is Sen. John Marty, my favorite straight guy/LGBT ally in the state legislature.

That MinnPost article is definitely pretty broad and completely lacking in real details.’s FAQ is also somewhat lacking in details, but does speak to a lot of the most common questions about insurance, the government’s role, socialized medicine, consumer choice, undocumented immigrants, taxes, etc.

I only got so far through the text of the bill introduced in the state legislature last year (also available at, so I’m still not 100% clear on how the money would flow. I’m wondering what kind of premiums (which would be sliding-scale based on income) we’d all have to pay to actually cover the cost of all services provided. I’m also thinking that the insurance industry is so bloated that I have no real clue what the actual cost of health care really is, which is a problem in and of itself.

But it appears there’s hope. There’s a workable plan. I’d love to see our government grow a pair and try something. Be a leader in this country.