Costs are out of control in this country. When the drug Lipitor costs on average $124 in the U.S. and only $6 in New Zealand, we have a problem. A hip replacement in this country will run you about $40,364. In Switzerland, the same procedure costs $7,731 (2014 averages)!
The ACA (aka ObamaCare) did a lot to make sure people got covered, but if failed to address the costs and even made many healthy people pay more because of the additional not so healthy people now added into the mix. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that this is a crisis and it needs to be fixed. Unfortunately we have politicians in St. Paul (and DC) who are more concerned about winning past political battles and receiving good press, than actually trying to fix this problem. Both sides need to come together ASAP to fix the individual marketplace in Minnesota.
The legislature needs to quickly offer short term relief using our state's surplus so that nobody must pay over 10% of their income in insurance costs per year. Then we must stabilize the individual market. We could do a reinsurance program like Alaska or allow individuals to purchase MinnesotaCare, the state's more efficient health insurance program. There are plenty of ideas from smart people on both sides of the aisle...we must at least try them.
In the long term, however, we must get a handle on the general cost of procedures and prescription drugs. Current costs are simply unsustainable for Minnesotans and even the insurance companies.
While we wait for the legislature to get their act together, and if you're not offered employer coverage or on a government plan (Medicaid, Medicare, or MNcare) you need to shop for your new insurance plan beginning November 1st. Many people in Minnesota will qualify for subsidies throughMNsure.org. If you're a family of four earning under $84,000 or an individual making under $42,000, you will qualify for those subsidies. The shot clock for political points scoring has expired...let's do something
One of the legislature's most fundamental duties is to make sure our public schools are adequately funded. As a school board member, I understand how crucial this is. When schools are underfunded, the burden is placed on children and their communities, who are left with the responsibility to either cut their own programs or raise their own taxes. This is fiscally irresponsible. I will make sure school funding meets the needs of ALL school districts.
With our roads and bridges in desperate need of repair, Southeast Minnesota deserves a comprehensive and sustainable transportation funding plan. Every option should be on the table, however, we cannot continue to shift money and play games with our public safety. There are 50 structurally deficient bridges in Fillmore and Houston counties. The average age of all deficient bridges is 77 years. This is completely unacceptable and there must be leadership in St. Paul willing to tackle this problem.
Rural Development & Sustainability
Rural Broadband: High speed internet access is essential to operate effectively in a 21st century economy. Minnesota must invest in its rural communities by connecting them with the rest of the world by way of the internet. Current representation at the state legislature slashed rural broadband funding. I believe we need to go in the other direction. Residents of Houston and Fillmore counties should have equally as fast and accessible internet as those in the metropolitan areas enjoy.
Farming: Agriculture is one of the main economic drivers of our region. In order to continue our success we must reverse the trend of fewer and fewer farmers on fewer individual farms. Family farms, like the one I grew up on, are key to the economic viability of our region. Let's make sure land is accessible to young farmers and young families who want to make a decent living, while caring for the land in a way that would make our grandchildren proud.
Arts & Culture: The legislature must support local arts and culture funding. In towns like Lanesboro, which has blossomed as one of the most influential arts centers in Minnesota, the arts have become a way of attracting human and financial capital.
I believe in expanding recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women in Southeastern Minnesota. I also would like to continue making firearm safety a priority for teenagers and adults. Guns are not toys, they should be respected and used appropriately. I do not support further restrictions on any type of gun or ammunition in the State of Minnesota.
We only have one planet to live on, let's make sure we take care of it. Our natural home here in Southeast Minnesota provides us with great economic and aesthetic benefits, that allow us to spend time with our land and our waters. Our rolling hills, streams, and hardwood forests must be maintained for future generations. As a state legislator, I will make sure our local units of government, as well as our state agencies in charge of environmental protections, have the tools necessary to protect our natural resources for generations to come.