Minnesota Governor Ignores Legislature, Pushes Forward With Exchange

Minnesota Governor Ignores Legislature, Pushes Forward With Exchange
September 30, 2011

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)

Ignoring his legislature’s rejection of a state-run health care exchange as mandated by President Obama’s health care law, Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has announced he will use a $4.2 million grant from the federal government to create an exchange in his state without any legislative approval.

State Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and other Republicans had refused to push the exchange forward. They say the governor is ignoring the legislative process entirely.

“Our Senate HHS Committee held a hearing asking the Commissioners of HHS and Commerce to tell us what they are doing on the establishment of an exchange without legislative input, and they basically would not tell us anything,” Hann said in a press conference.

Exchange Rejected by Legislature

Dayton’s decision came after the legislature rebuffed repeated attempts by exchange supporters to add their language to larger bills. During Minnesota’s recent legislative special session, attempts were made to add language authorizing the exchange to a lengthy budget authorization, thwarted through the efforts of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom President Twila Brase,

Brase spotted the language in HF 24, a 286-page bill funding Minnesota’s Department of Health and Human Services, mere hours before it was scheduled to be voted on. After discovering that none of the Republican Chairs of the House or Senate HHS committees knew exchange language was in the bill, Brase immediately began alerting her contacts in the Minnesota House.

“This exchange is not a marketplace. It’s not a one-stop-shop to buy insurance. It’s a federal command and control center that President Obama wants to install in each state,” Brase said. “Exchanges will expand citizen dependency on government subsidies, create cartels of insurance companies, enforce the unconstitutional individual mandate, and advance nationalized health care.”

Republican leadership took action to see the HHS bill was revised, reprinted as a new bill (HF 25) without the exchange-authorizing language, and signed by the HHS conferees. Only then was the HHS bill put up for a vote, and it passed without the language authorizing an exchange.

Dayton Proceeds Anyway

Brase said legislators were furious to learn Dayton was proceeding without their approval.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services promised states flexibility, but the first Exchange regulation published mentions the word ‘require’ 811 times,” Brase said. “Minnesota stands as an example of how Obamacare can be defeated with a few strong conservative legislators and an actively engaged public opposition.”

Brase said she and other engaged Minnesotans are prepared to battle with Dayton over exchange implementation.

“Obama's American Health Benefits Exchange should be viewed as a lobster trap. Once you crawl in, you'll never get out,” Brase said.

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)