Government-run health care delayed, but still rolling on

The law as it is passed now requires a hastily established commission of experts to tell us which government-subsidized plan is the best – not if, but which.


When the 2023 legislature adjourned on May 22, it had spared Minnesota a rush to instituting Government-run, single payer health care. Instead, it used a slight-of-hand, tried and tested political strategy to convince us “there’s nothing there to be concerned about.” But there is.

The Conference Committee on the Health and Human Services omnibus bill considered a breathtaking remake of the way we pay for and receive health care, and the differences between the House and Senate version had to be reconciled. The bill that emerged from the conference committee now requires an “Analysis of Benefits and Costs of a Universal Health Care Financing System.”

Stated more plainly, the law as it is passed now requires a hastily established commission of experts to tell us which government-subsidized plan is the best – not if, but which. The commission is required to give its report to the legislature by February 1, 2024. The legislature is instructed to do whatever it needs to enable the launch of the new, government-expanding public health insurance option by January 1, 2027.

If the intent of the bill is fulfilled, Minnesota will have a government-subsidized, “public option” health plan available for anyone qualified who wants to buy it on January 1, 2027. The private insurance market will begin to go away. No doubt, those new MinnesotaCare enrollees, who will be paying 25-50% of the premium they pay today, will love saving money. When they have a critical health need, and there are few physicians, clinics, or fewer hospitals to serve them, they will realize their mistake – but too late.

The DFL, and many others have long-contended that Minnesotans would save money and receive increased access to higher quality care, if only the government had more authority over health care. The purists on the single payer side of the argument want a government-run system where the only health care game in town is one run and paid for by Minnesota government. The DFL knows the people are not ready for that.

The best option for single payer advocates is to go slow. This is done by expanding eligibility for MinnesotaCare to anyone who wants to buy it. Currently, it is generally restricted to individuals earning between 138-200 percent of Federal Poverty Guideline income. The DFL expects that on January 1, 2027, all Minnesotans, regardless of income, will have the option to buy MinnesotaCare insurance – using the public option. 

Why would you or anyone else want to buy a government-sponsored health insurance plan instead of relying on the private insurance system? MinnesotaCare is a “Platinum” level health plan. It covers just about everything – medical, hospital, surgical, drugs, vision, hearing, and a new kitchen sink (okay, the latter is a stretch). 

The co-pays are low and the premiums are subsidized by taxpayers. You pay less because others pay more. 

How can a government-run health insurance plan charge 25-50% less for premiums than a private insurance plan? Pay providers less. In fact, pay them less than Medicare pays for elder medical care. It’s easy math. You pay providers less, the insurance is so attractive that almost everyone wants it, and the price goes down. Except so does the supply of physicians, surgeons, and other medical professionals. Why would any experienced physician work for less to serve more people?

We’re sliding faster down the slippery slope to government-run, single payer health care. Health care freedom is one of the last vestiges of liberty and when or if we lose it, we will have finally succumbed to a government-run state. 

We can do better.


Dave Racer

Dave Racer, MLitt, is an author, publisher, commentator, and teacher. He has 22 books about health care to his credit as author, co-author, or editor.