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Column: Legislature should correct MNsure's failures

Three months ago, I shared my concerns with MNsure – Minnesota’s version of Obamacare. I predicted the problems Minnesotans would see, including higher health insurance prices, unsatisfactory policy options, lost control of their healthcare decision-making, and the real threat that their private data could be in jeopardy.

Quit trying to scare people, I was told.

Gov. Mark Dayton recently told the media that all the problems surrounding MNsure keep him awake at night. Dayton shouldn’t be sleeping when you consider the rash of website crashes and extraordinarily long waits Minnesotans are having while trying to talk to an actual human being about acquiring health insurance.

Minnesotans are waking up to the reality that there’s no such thing as free health care and their government has once again misled them into believing that it can do something better than the free market – when in fact, it cannot.

First, there are payment information struggles. While people are led to believe they have completed a health insurance transaction through MNsure, many have received no confirmation as to whether they actually have coverage because the information sent to insurance companies by MNsure is incomplete or inaccurate.

Then there’s the cost issue. We are wasting taxpayer resources to create and unsuccessfully market a government-run health insurance program that features higher rates than are currently available in the private marketplace. And they’re trying to tell us MNsure would save people money?

And do you remember the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” untruth from President Barack Obama? Another promise made, promise broken.

Even under Minnesota’s version of Obamacare, people are being told they cannot keep their previous health plan, and in many cases they’re paying more for the privilege of owning a health insurance policy they didn’t want.

Finally there are MNsure’s security problems. Recent news reports highlighted Internet security experts identifying flaws in MNsure's website that could compromise people’s sensitive personal information.

I’m not opposed to affordable health care, but I am opposed to the way Minnesota approached it. Remember, state bureaucrats already blew $155 million of your money on this failed program – and will continue squandering roughly $70 million every year in the future – and have nothing but chaos to show for it.

If we’re serious about affordable healthcare, it’s time to change direction. Attempting to abandon the free market was an awful mistake.

We need to stop the march toward government takeover and turn directly to supporting individual health care, freedom and choice.

Start by allowing insurance companies from other states to compete for your business. More competition will increase healthcare quality and decrease your health insurance expenses.

Next, let’s bring tort reform forward and work to reduce the exorbitant financial liabilities being placed upon doctors – a move which will also lower costs.

How about reforming the dozens of mandates requiring us to purchase coverage for conditions we’ll never have? For instance, Minnesota law requires men to purchase pregnancy coverage. This must be government’s idea of low cost and common sense.

By removing the shackles of government controls from the private health insurance marketplace, coverage can be offered without an enormous government subsidy.

Minnesota must also move toward public policy that makes it more attractive for citizens to develop and utilize their own health savings accounts.

Not only would this encourage personal responsibility, it would also maintain personal choice - both in selecting an affordable health care plan and keeping a doctor you trust.

Imagine a world where people regain control of their own health care coverage and aren’t forced to accept lies from an overbearing and paternalistic government.

We can radically improve this health insurance debacle by re-establishing our freedom to choose. Or we can continue to follow empty promises and deceitful propaganda from the Democratic-led government.

This health care fiasco is inexcusable. The lawmakers who promised, imposed and deceived the people are responsible for the predicted failures. We warned them, but they refused to listen.

We’re past the point of simply showing concern about this program’s non-performance because the rubber has already hit the road. At some point, lawmakers and bureaucrats need to stop holding their noses, hoping this MNsure mess will rectify itself.

Feb. 25, the first day of the 2014 legislative session, would be a good day to start. I will be there fighting to help us rediscover the freedom of the marketplace. We can navigate toward common sense solutions that focus on the power and choices of people and end the empty promises of a failing and misdirected government.