Minnesota Senate Gives Preliminary Approval To Health Care Overhaul Bill

Armen Hareyan's picture

TheMinnesota Senate on Thursday voted 41-22 to grant preliminary approval tolegislation that would overhaul the state health care system and expandcoverage to 47,000 state residents, the Minneapolis StarTribunereports. The bill would require health care providers to make their fees publicand would create standard benefit sets to allow consumers to compare care andprices. In addition, the state would monitor childhood obesity rates and helppeople manage chronic conditions, such as through nurse phone calls andphysician visits.

The coverage expansion would be paid for through projected long-term costsavings. The legislation also would allow small-business employees to purchaseprivate health insurance with tax-free dollars. According to bill sponsor stateSen. Linda Berglin (D), the legislation is intended to take the emphasis offthe "10-minute office visit" and place it on effective caremanagement.

However, some state Democrats criticized the bill, warning of unintendedconsequences, the Star Tribune reports. State Sen. Sharon EricksonRopes (D) said, "If a lot of us [lawmakers] are real honest, we wouldadmit there are huge sections of the bill we don't understand," addingthat the bill risked "committing Minnesotans to a path that's untested,unmeasured," and "that puts Minnesotahealth care at risk." Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said he opposes the bill inits current form because it would expand care with no guarantee of savings(Lopez, MinneapolisStar Tribune, 3/27).

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