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COACT's all-seasons organizing for social justice.
COACT initiates strategy with key groups and legislator to use HMOs' costs and mismanagement as reasons for MN Health Plan
Fighting for the single-payer Health Plan means taking on the 800 lb. HMO gorilla.
With Minnesota’s health care future at stake, representatives of COACT, the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition (GMHCC), Physicians for a National Health Plan-MN, and Conversations on Health Care met on Oct. 12 to stand up to the HMOs to show them for what they are- failures at providing affordable and accessible health care for all Minnesotans and further limiting our choice of doctors and hospitals.
The October meeting was initiated by COACT with Rep. John Lesch, member and past Chair of the House Civil Law and Data Practices Committee, whose experience with the HMOs’ non-compliance to law motivated him to address their lack of accountability to Minnesota taxpayers. He is a St. Paul prosecutor and an infantry platoon commander in the Minnesota National Guard "Red Bulls".
The groups believe that these failures, along with waste and mismanagement of billions of tax dollars by the HMOs that run the state’s Medical Assistance program, will make the case for the Minnesota Health Plan to merit the federal waiver over Accountable Care Organizations (HMO monopolies) to be our future health care system. (See Newsletter Spring 2016 on Accountable Care Organizations for which HMO proponents want the waiver.)
Governor Dayton, THANK YOU for your budget initiative to fund a study to compare the costs of single-payer vs. free-market health insurers!
COACT and Minnesota Farmers Union urge continuation of the Farmer-Lender Mediation Program in the volatile farm economy
Farmers Union and Farmer-Lender leaders address Program at COACT Farm Picnic
With family farm income at a 20-year low, continuance of the Farmer-Lender Mediation Program, which emerged from the farm crisis of the 1980s, was urged by Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson and the Program’s Director, Mary Nell Preisler, at COACT’s 36th Annual Farm Picnic, August 21, at Pierz in Central Minnesota. Minnesota’s farm economy may not be in a crisis as it was in the ‘80s when family farm foreclosures were rampant, but the Program will always be needed in the volatile farm economy, they said. It gives farmers the right to third party mediators to help restructure their debt with lenders before they proceed with foreclosure.
COACT farmers call on Main Street businesses for their views on how the Farmer-Lender Mediation Program is working
COACT Education Foundation praises Neighborhoods Organizing for Change
Governor proposes, Senate passes funding for a study to compare costs of single-payer vs free-market health insurers
35th COACT Farm Picnic celebrates family farms and small businesses as pillars of our economy
Small Business Minnesota confirms COACT’s stand for health care reform
At the 35th Farm Picnic on August 16 in Pierz, Audrey Britton, chair of Small Business Minnesota, told the audience of 105 guests what COACT has been hearing for years from Central Minnesota business owners on main street: paying HMOs for medical care is not cost effective, public accountability is needed for tax dollars going to HMO contractors, and high deductible policies are unaffordable. Business owners are cost-efficient managers, so they expect the same from the HMOs, she said.
Small businesses and farms are not represented by the large corporations
Feedlot industry retaliates against Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board for its environmental review of mega-dairy
COACT Vice President Charlie Quick (far right) and other Members rally with Senator John Marty (center) at the MPCA June 23 to save the Citizens Board.
Testimony from citizens and COACT convinced the Board to require the EIS in order to see how Riverview’s proposed 9200-cow expansion, largest so far, could potentially damage the area’s environment and economy.
Riverview already owns six operations averaging 4,000 cows each, with the largest over 6,000, for a total of 27,000 cows concentrated in one area. Adding 9,200 more would produce manure waste beyond the tolerance of the county’s water supply and acreage.
Air and water pollution would risk public health, according to COACT’s testimony. Furthermore, COACT asked if the public will be responsible for the ensuing pollution costs of expansion, since Riverview is a Limited Liability Partnership
The Citizens Board of the Minnesota Control Agency (MPCA) may be down, but not out. Although legislation by big ag, big mining, and their legislative allies may have knocked it down, it can come back, according to COACT testimony at the Board's final hearing at MPCS June 23.
At the hearing, former Governor Wendell Anderson thanks COACT farm leader Stephanie Henriksen for fighting for the Citizens Board, which Governor Mark Dayton promised after the contentious Special Session to work to restore.
Having fought the good fight for family farms and the environment, Stephanie died on December 15, 2015. She is greatly missed by COACT, Minnesota Farmers Union, and Land Stewardship Project whose members have been inspired by her passion for protecting family farms from factory farms and industrial agriculture.
Following a rally at the Governor’s Mansion May 21, Gov. Dayton vetoed elimination of the Citizens Board on May 23. He then used his executive power to make it an advisory committee to the MPCA Commissioner until its EIS authority can be re-legislated.
The first step was taken this session for Minnesota to get the federal waiver, under Obamacare, which will allow the state to enact the single-payer Minnesota Health Plan (MHP).
For any proposal to be considered for the waiver, Senator John Marty and Representative Carolyn Laine, chief authors of the MHP, introduced legislation in the 2015 session setting the principles that all state health program proposals must meet. They include affordability for all, cost savings, provider choice, comprehensive care, and public accountability. This is step 1 in their overall legislative plan for Minnesota to get the waiver in for which COACT is working to get public support.
Representative John Lesch (center), confers with COACT Vice President Charlie Quick (left) and Executive Director Don Pylkkanen January 13 on the Marty-Laine waiver legislative plan following the December 15 Civil Law Committee hearing on HMOs’ hidden spending practices.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) allows states to begin applying for a State Innovation Waiver (section 1332) in 2017 to create their own health care programs. Basically, the state program must cover as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act and cannot add to the federal deficit. Being single-payer, the Minnesota Health Plan is far superior in meeting these basics.
1. Senator Marty and Representative Laine introduced a health study bill that
a. sets the principles (affordability for all, cost savings, choice of providers, comprehensive care, no deductibles, etc.) that all proposals must meet;
b. authorizes the Commissioner of Management and Budget to contract with the University of Minnesota to study the proposals that are offered
c. invites proposals to be submitted to the legislature.
2. Passage of the study legislation.
3. Passage of enabling legislation that directs the Minnesota Department of Human Services to apply to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the State Innovation Waiver to allow the state to enact the selected plan that best meets the principles.
Legislators of both parties are dismayed that the HMOs are not reporting basic financial data on the programs they run, amounting to 20% of the general fund budget. This makes single-payer long overdue.
Dr. Laurel Gamm, MD, Co-Chair, MN Physicians for a Nat'l Health Program
Paul Sobocinski, family farmer and organizer, Land Stewardship Project.
Al Doty, House Dist. 9B Candidate, former State Rep., and former Staff for Congressman Nolan
“As a family physician, my heart breaks whenever an HMO or insurance company tells me I can’t give medically necessary care to a patient because they lack coverage,” Dr. Laurel Gamm, MD, Co-Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program Minnesota (PNHP-MN) told an audience of 103 people at COACT’s 34th Farm Picnic, August 17, in the central Minnesota farm community of Pierz.
Standing up to corporate power in our lives, whether it’s HMOs profiteer-ing on our health care or factory agriculture degrading the land and rural economy, was addressed by Paul Sobocinski, family farmer and organizer for the Land Stewardship Project (LSP).
“Minnesota’s Corporate Farm Law mandates the protection of family farms and rural society which are being threatened by expanding multi-thousand cow factory dairies,” he said.
Al Doty, House District 9 B Candidate and long-time champion for family farmers and single-payer, pledged that, as their state representative, he will support their positions on these issues and Minnesota’s right to enact a single-payer health program. He will work for the Minnesota Health Plan to achieve it, he promised, which won COACT’s enthusiastic endorsement.