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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Health Care Reform: Minnesota

Health care isn't a city matter per se, but it certainly affects Maplewood as an employer as well as all of our residents and businesses. At last week's LMC regional meeting, the state demographer told us how the aging population and rising health care costs will overwhelm the state's budget in coming decades if nothing changes. While there is a robust debate about the final shape of health care reform, there seems to be overwhelming agreement that reform is needed. When Sen. Franken was visiting, health care reform was a topic that came up as a priority in the eyes of local officials.

For those following the debate, an informative resource is now available on HealthReform.gov, the informational website created by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: a state-by-state breakdown of the challenges of healthcare in each individual state, and what reform would do to address those issues.

The page on Minnesota, for example, tells us that our state has 519,000 uninsured residents, resulting in $1.3 billion per year in uncompensated care. To account for the write-off of uncollectable accounts, health care providers have to charge more to everyone who does have insurance or the ability to pay. For another example, Minnesota physicians spend about 2.5 million hours and $1.2 billion just dealing with the bureaucracy and paperwork of health insurance.

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