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It is pledge time at MPR: Why I am not a member of NPR/MPR (again this year)

Why are taxpayers forced to pay for government radio? Here is one example, of many, why taxpayer funding should be declared unconstitutional. This exchange about Obamacare was not reporting; it was commentary parading as reporting. And the pampered intelligentsia at NPR are so convinced of their righteousness, so lost in the beltway, that they could not hide their hysteria or breathless opposition to any rollback of Obamacare. ...

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Attorney General Swanson Sues to Force Trump Administration to Break the Law

The Star Tribune reports that Minnesota's Attorney General, Lori Swanson, will join several other states in suing to try to force the Trump administration to resume making "cost-sharing reduction" payments to health insurance companies. Trump announced yesterday that such payments would cease. Completely absent from the Strib's reporting is the reason why the Trump administration is suspending CSR payments: they are illegal, because Congress has not appropriated money to fund them. In fact, a federal court has already ruled that the CSR payments that were made by the Obama administration were unconstitutional. Last May, in U.S. House of Representatives v. Burwell,...

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Trump signs executive order to begin replacing Obamacare with better health care choices

After repeated efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare in Congress, President Trump signed an executive order today directing federal agencies to take specific steps to give Americans more and better health care choices. In just three short years, Obamacare has severely damaged health insurance markets across the country, leaving some markets on the brink of total collapse. Going into 2018, consumers will have access to just one health carrier in nearly half of the counties across America.  In many cases, this sole health carrier does not include local doctors in its network, forcing people to switch doctors and drive long distances...

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Last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare might just bring moderate and conservative Republicans together

Yesterday four Senators—Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller, and Ron Johnson—released the latest bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Like every other bill, it only partially repeals Obamacare because it aims to satisfy the Senate’s reconciliation process, which allows a bill to be passed by a bare majority and avoid a filibuster.  As such, the bill can only include budget provisions related to revenue and spending. The reconciliation process also puts a severe time constraint on the bill’s passage because, according to the Senate parliamentarian, the current reconciliation instructions expire September 30—the end of the federal fiscal year. Once that time expires, it’s...

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Minnesota’s reinsurance program helps calm health care rates

Premiums have stabilized in the individual market, thanks to a $542 million subsidy, but legislators still have more work to do. This op-ed originally appeared in the Star Tribune on August 4, 2017 This week, Minnesotans subject to three years of spiking health insurance premiums on the individual market got their first bit of good news. Rates won’t be spiking again in 2018, according to preliminary health insurance rate information released by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Proposed average changes range from a 14.5 percent reduction to an 11.4 percent increase across the four major health plans. Every plan projects that at least...

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Strong growth in physicians licensed in Minnesota

The Federation of State Medical Boards released their latest biennial report on the number of doctors licensed to practice medicine in American in 2016.  Assuming having more doctors is a good thing, then Minnesota is doing better. The number of doctors licensed in Minnesota increased from 20,174 in 2012 to 23,494 in 2016.  This represents a 16.5 percent increase, a substantial jump in just four years.  This was the eleventh highest rate of change in the country.  States with stronger growth are all either Mountain states (Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah) or strung down the east coast (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, D.C.,...

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Efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare still moving forward after Senate meets with Trump

Earlier this week, the media quickly declared that congressional efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare had collapsed. We've previously heard reports declaring repeal efforts dead back in March when Speaker Paul Ryan found he didn’t yet have the votes to pass a bill.  Yet Ryan eventually brought enough Republicans together. I remain optimistic that Republicans will eventually come together and finally deliver on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.  That’s because I’ve always thought it would be impossible for Republicans to ignore the severe upheaval happening in individual health insurance markets across the country, all a result of Obamacare.  The...

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Insurance choices dwindling in counties across America

Yesterday I noted news released this week from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that shows only half the insurers that offered coverage on Obamacare exchanges in 2016 plan to participate in 2018.  That's a dramatic drop in choice for consumers in just two short years. CMS also released an updated map this week depicting the number of health insurer carrier choices available in each county.  The yellow portions in the map below represents the 1,334 counties in America—42.47 percent of all counties—in which people have only one carrier option, meaning they they have no choice. For some counties, the problem...

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Number of Insurers Offering Coverage through Obamacare Exchanges Drops in Half

On Monday the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that only 141 health insurers filed applications to offer health plans through the federal Obamacare exchanges in 2018.  As the graph below shows, that's half as many insurers submitting applications as in 2016. Here's how Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price explained the depth of the problem: The situation has never been more dire. Americans are continuing to lose what health coverage they have and are forced to choose from fewer options or pay the IRS for the right to go without. This further limits their access to the doctors...

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