A Healthy Minnesota

Uncertainty is for lottery tickets and sports games, not for healthcare. A health emergency can strike at any time, and often without warning. When these emergencies arise, our primary focus should be on healing. Unfortunately for far too many of us, our focus is instead on how we'll keep our heads above water in the face of the outrageously growing costs of the treatments and procedures we need. As long as it's possible to turn a profit off our health, we will be burdened by soaring premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs.

As Minnesotans, we are leaders and innovators, and it's time for us to demand an end to the greed that has plagued our healthcare system at our expense. The growing bipartisan consensus is clear that the only way to move beyond our cycle of healthcare crisis after healthcare crisis is by establishing a system in which every single citizen is guaranteed care.

This is an investment that will not only drive down costs, but will also free businesses and families from the burden of shifting healthcare expenses, and it is this freedom that will secure a brighter future for all of us. Healthcare is not a political issue to me--it is a moral one. In order to ensure best outcomes, I want reason and data to drive our policy decisions, not convenient partisan sound bites.

The Affordable Care Act helped to make healthcare accessible to millions of Americans, but it did not solve the fundamental problems of our uniquely inefficient and costly healthcare system. In the United States, we spend more money per capita on healthcare than anywhere else in the world, without any additional benefits. This is due in part to poor cost control and middle man bureaucracy that requires providers and hospitals to divert time and resources that could be spent on patient care towards paperwork instead.

"...your health should never be determined by your wealth..."

By reducing inefficiencies in medical billing, we can feasibly expect to reduce healthcare spending by approximately 20%,  but this still does not address our major problem: Too many people are paying too much for care that is still largely unaffordable. It is my belief that your health should never be determined by your wealth, and it is time to look to the future of healthcare as being built on a model of securing our overall well being rather than maintaining an unsustainable system built solely to profit from our basic human need for quality healthcare services. No young adult should have to crowd fund their survival, and if you need a new knee, your prohibitive deductible shouldn't interfere with you getting the care you need.

MinnesotaCare provides access to quality, affordable healthcare to thousands of hard working Minnesotans by streamlining expenses so that payments into this system go towards the cost of care. I want to grow our healthcare options as we eventually work towards healthcare for everyone, and opening enrollment to MinnesotaCare for all Minnesotans regardless of income is a major step towards achieving this goal, and cutting out some of the worry that we face concerning the costs of healthcare coverage. Increasing access to this program also means you will still have affordable health insurance even if you get laid off from your job.

The cornerstone of my approach to healthcare reform is to maintain the whole health of an individual from the moment we enter this world to the moment we depart. The best form of treatment is prevention, and by enabling greater integration of care providers into our communities as stewards of public health by ensuring every person can obtain the individualized care they need, we can prevent and reduce the demand for expensive health services before they are necessary.

The CDC estimates that economic output in our country is reduced by $260 billion and 69 million days of work per year as a result of worker sick days. Considering that income inequality has grown severely in Minnesota alone since the 1970s, as the cost of living has increased dramatically, many of us cannot afford to miss any amount of work due to illness. Those 69 million days for many of us means that we can't afford our car payments or our groceries.

Healthy communities are a basic component of a stable, prosperous society--not an idealistic luxury, and if we work together, Minnesota can be a leader in the future of healthcare delivery.