By State Rep. Jordan Rasmusson,
Fergus Falls-Republican

The House has concluded conducting discussions and votes on preliminary approval of this session’s omnibus packages that cover the spectrum, from education to taxes, public safety, and beyond.

Health and human services is among the state’s top state expenditures, and the omnibus bill on that subject the House majority approved this week needs a major overhaul before it’s ready for final passage. In short, House Democrats are pushing a government health care takeover and growing bureaucracy at a time we should be focused on reducing the cost of healthcare and helping Minnesota’s struggling nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The bill spends hundreds of millions of dollars over the next four years only to drive up the cost of healthcare and impose burdensome regulations.

The bill also reads as a continuation of the House majority’s position that government knows best, including prescriptive measures prohibiting some actions insurance companies take to control prescription drug costs.

Soaring health care costs have been a major issue for people throughout our state, exacerbated by the historic price increases we are facing throughout the current economy. The state has a historic surplus, and reducing health care costs should be a top priority. I offered a couple of amendments to the health care package to help make this happen.

One amendment I submitted repeals the state’s “sick tax,” which is a tax on essentially every health care service in Minnesota. It is fundamentally wrong that any government program is funded on the backs of Minnesotans who need medical care. We should not tax women giving birth, people seeking cancer treatment, people with diabetes, or any other Minnesotan seeking care. This tax was set to end in 2019 before Democrats pushed for an extension, and my amendment would end this unjust tax.

Another amendment I offered reduces the cost of health insurance for people who purchase insurance through MNsure, with a 57-percent reduction to the premium tax. This tax directly contributes to higher premiums for Minnesotans. If MNsure needs funding, it should come to the Legislature and request it, not expect every Minnesotan to pay a tax on their health care to fund it.

Unfortunately, yet somewhat predictably, House Democrats blocked all House Republican efforts to add cost-saving amendments to the bill, including my amendments to cut the sick tax and to cut the premium tax.