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Until last week, bills advancing Democrats’ lofty agenda to overhaul Minnesota’s health care system were quietly moving through the legislative process. Then news broke that the Mayo Clinic had sent an email to DFL legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz saying that if two policies became law, Mayo would shift billions in planned investments to other states.
Mayo’s ultimatum reflects the broader reality of what will happen to Minnesota’s health system if the full slate of far-left policies becomes law. Together, they collect top-down worst-case, government-knows-best guidelines and ensure Minnesota’s health care is heavily regulated, stifling future investment and innovation to deliver better patient care.
Unfortunately, patients don’t know what’s coming because every major player in the health sector is focused on protecting their own turf and is otherwise quiet. Worse, they pitted themselves against each other in a blame game for trying to shift the damage from the DFL’s policies onto other players. Like most round shooting teams, it didn’t go well.
Earlier, the Affordable Care Association, which represents generic drug manufacturers, urged lawmakers to remove price controls on generics from the bill and instead focus on higher-cost brand-name drugs.
To protect brand-name drug manufacturers from the same bill for price gouging, their lobbying arm PHRMA pointed to how much insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) contribute to high drug costs. PHRMA details several top-to-bottom government regulations that lawmakers must impose on these players.
Eventually, the Minnesota Council of Health Plans — a PBM supporter of PHRMA — weighed in unequivocally against drug manufacturers for drug price controls.
Not to be outdone, doctors represented by the Minnesota Medical Association have qualified support for public alternative health plans to compete with private health plans. This means that By 2019, a national model program that will reduce individual market premiums to the lowest in the country means paying reinsurance.
The Minnesota Hospital Association largely avoids this problem by opposing policies that directly affect the activities of their members. This includes the two most pressing policies Mayo identified: the requirement for hospitals to establish nurse staffing and workload committees, and the establishment of a health care affordability board with the authority to set and enforce limits on the cost of care.
Although hospitals have not joined the firing squad, their silent voices have kept Minnesotans in the dark about the serious risks these DFL policies pose to patients.
It took an email leak from Mayo to sound the alarm in the final weeks of the term. Recently, 68 leaders from non-profit hospitals in Minnesota He issued a statement. “How DFL Regulations Affect Hospital Care.”
But where were you in January when public pressure could have been more effective? More importantly, now, where are the other harmful regulations Democrats have planned for the rest of Minnesota’s health care system?
To review, Democrats want the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to impose price controls that reduce access to life-saving drug innovations. a newly unelected bureaucracy to enforce cost-growth limits on providers and push them toward rationed care; Expensive coverage obligations to micromanage health plan designs; Committees make nurses prioritize patients; Public option to reduce private health plans; and repealing the state’s nation-leading reinsurance program.
Hospitals, doctors, drug manufacturers, PBMs and health plans all need to share their concerns about what’s happening with the Legislature. Repeated government measures to set prices, micromanage private companies, and design consumer products have stifled innovation. In health care, less innovation means lower quality patient care.
It’s time for the health sector to stop pointing fingers and join hands to educate and protect patients, as Democrats and Governor Walsh are pushing at the Capitol.
Peter Nelson is a senior policy fellow at the Center for American Testing and senior advisor to the administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.