Statement On Public Option Legislation

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota’s Health Care Future (MNHCF) issued the following statement today regarding the insertion of provisions to create a state government-designed public option health insurance system within S.F. 4699, the vehicle for the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s omnibus budget/policy bill.

“There is no successful public option in any state in the country. A majority of Minnesota voters say they do not support it. Research warns that it would jeopardize Minnesotans’ access to affordable coverage and high-quality care, especially in rural and underserved communities. Instead of rushing to ram this unaffordable, risky proposal into law, Minnesota lawmakers must slow down and take the time to address the many unanswered questions regarding its consequences for Minnesotans’ costs, coverage and access to quality care.”

new poll finds that a majority of Minnesota likely voters do not support creating a new state government public option. The poll finds that most Minnesota voters would prefer to improve upon the state’s current health insurance system over creating a state public option. It also found that most would not be willing to pay any more in taxes (72%) or health care costs (76%) to fund the creation of a state public option – including a majority of Democratic voters, 57% of whom would not be willing to pay more in taxes and 65% of whom would not be willing to pay more in health care costs.

At the same time, a new report by Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D., Tom Church, and Daniel Heil sheds additional light on the potential negative consequences a public option could have for Minnesotans, warning that “any significant shift in exchange enrollment to a MinnesotaCare public option would result in significant cuts to providers … This could reduce payments to Minnesotan hospitals by $2.3 billion over 10 years, with large risks for critical access hospitals and hospitals in rural areas.” The report also shows that the public option has failed to deliver on its promises in the states where it has been tried. 

separate analysis conducted last year by economists at FTI Consulting found that creating the public option could harm Minnesotans’ access to affordable, high-quality health care.

Minnesota lawmakers still do not know the true costs to Minnesota taxpayers and consumers; its potential to distort Minnesota’s health coverage markets and lead to higher costs for consumers with employer-provided coverage or other private health plans; and its potential to jeopardize Minnesotans’ access to care, among other unanswered questions.

The Star Tribune’s editorial board recently raised additional questions and cautioned legislators that “implementing a public option is a dauntingly complex undertaking,” urging that a “risk-benefit calculation should be at the forefront of policymakers’ minds” in weighing any proposal.

  • Learn more about Minnesota’s Health Care Future here.