Health bill heads to negotiationsST. PAUL — Competing Minnesota House and Senate health-care reform proposals are headed to negotiations amid warnings Gov. Tim Pawlenty will not support either plan.
By: By Scott Wente and Don Davis Capitol Bureau correspondents , The Republican Eagle
ST. PAUL — Competing Minnesota House and Senate health-care reform proposals are headed to negotiations amid warnings Gov. Tim Pawlenty will not support either plan.
Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, said a bill the House passed late Thursday does more to shake up Minnesota’s health-care system than has been done anywhere in the country, and that makes it widely controversial.
“Every single person in the health-care system is nervous, but every single one of those people wants changes,” Huntley told representatives before they voted 83-50 to send the bill to a conference committee.
The Senate already passed a version that goes further than the House bill, including assessing fees on hospitals and health insurers to fund state health-program expansions.
Both bills attempt to slow rising health-care costs, add thousands of low-income Minnesotans to a state-subsidized health insurance program and change how health care is funded.
Republicans faulted the House plan because it is paid for solely with nearly $300 million in the Health Care Access Fund. They claimed the bill within five years will bankrupt that account, which collects a tax on health-care providers to fund health insurance for low-income Minnesotans.
They said there is no plan to pay for the reform after 2012, other than to raise taxes or boot people from state-subsidized programs.
“The bill in its current form will not be signed,” said House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty did not go that far on his Friday radio show, but called the Democratic-written bills flawed. But he added that it could be fixed in upcoming negotiations.
“Democrats in many cases just want to expand government programs,” the Republican governor said.