Skip to content

Oppose Minnesota’s undemocratic single-payer health plan proposal

By John A. Spry

St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN) – November 1, 2018

Democrats in California and Vermont said they wanted single-payer health care. However, they have been unable to get a majority of lawmakers to pass the massive tax hikes needed to finance single-payer.

Minnesota Democrats have a plan to create a statewide single-payer health plan funded with state taxes, without lawmakers voting for tax hikes. Minnesota Democrats’ legislation would give an appointed Minnesota Health Board the unlimited power to tax. This unelected board would run the entire health care system in Minnesota with both tax and spending authority. This unelected board would enact the massive tax hikes that Democratic legislators are unwilling to support publicly.

This legislation is sponsored by the Democrats’ candidate for lieutenant governor, State Rep. Peggy Flanagan, Democratic State Senate Leader Tom Bakk, congressional candidate State Rep. Ilhan Omar, and thirty-seven other Democratic lawmakers.

This legislation stands in opposition to the Minnesota Constitution. The Minnesota Constitution proclaims that all political power is inherent in the people. It provides for the regular election of public officials in the legislative, executive, and judicial divisions. It is democratic and good that legislators and the governor are accountable to the people at the next election.

The Democrats’ legislation says that regional health boards would select eight members of the new Minnesota Health Board. The first eight members selected by regional health boards would then appoint seven additional members who would have to be members of specified health care interest groups.

These 15 appointees would never be accountable to the voters at a ballot box. They would have control over life and death decisions for every Minnesotan.

Americans have proudly rejected authoritarian rule by unelected officials. Our Revolutionary patriots proclaimed “No Taxation without Representation.”

In that American tradition, the Minnesota Constitution gives the power of taxation to an elected Legislature.  It further requires that this “power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended or contracted away.” It is democratic to never let the elected Legislature surrender its power of taxation to an unelected Minnesota Health Board.

Putting the unlimited power of taxation into the hands of government officials who are selected instead of elected is a gross violation of the Minnesota Constitution and the basic idea of representative democracy.

Why do Minnesota Democrats want to give the power to tax and spend to the appointed members of the Minnesota Health Board?

They explain at the marketing website for the single-payer Minnesota Health Plan (MHP): “The Legislature and Governor would have no authority over the MHP revenues. This is necessary in order to prevent the use of MHP premiums to balance the state budget, and would also prevent politicians from starving the health plan of needed funds, a problem that occurs in some of the countries where politicians are responsible for funding their national health plans.”

This quote is a scary declaration of support for rule by unelected authorities instead of the elected Legislature and governor.

These single-payer supporters openly express their opposition to the democratic process in other countries because they do not like the policy choices made by those countries’ elected representatives.

The advocates of the Minnesota Health Plan want to take away your current health insurance and replace it with the health insurance the unelected government board decides you will have. They even want to take away your right to vote for the people who will make these decisions.

The single-payer Minnesota Health Plan puts health care decisions in the hands of people who are never accountable to the people at the ballot box. That is a terrible way to run a government.

We should preserve government by the people, of the people, and for the people by opposing the undemocratic single-payer Minnesota Health Plan.

John Spry is an associate professor in the department of finance at the University of St. Thomas.  Follow him on Twitter at @JohnASpry.