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Governor Walz Hears Healthcare Woes in Rochester

March 25, 2019 10:42 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Governor Tim Walz was in Rochester Monday afternoon to hear from people in southeast Minnesota about their experiences purchasing health insurance.

With rates continuing to rise and 350,000 Minnesotans without insurance, the governor’s healthcare budget prioritizes people who have to buy individual insurance plans.

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“We’ve been listening to these stories for far too long,” said Tony Lourey, Commissioner of the Department of Human Services who was with the governor Monday.

The stories were from people who don’t get health insurance through an employer for a number of reasons – early retirement, small business owners, or farmers.

“Go back, long time ago when I was first farming with my dad, I bought $1000 deductible and it only cost me $149 for the whole year,” said Michael Frost, who has a farm near Pine Island.

Over Frost’s lifetime, especially in the last few years, he’s seen the cost of healthcare skyrocket.

“Few years back we paid over $24,000 between the premiums on the health insurance and the $10,600 deductible,” Frost said.

Unfortunately, Frost’s story isn’t unique.

“There’s many places where there’s only one choice or none at all and the individual market rates are upwards of $25,000 with, in many cases, $10,000 deductibles; there is no free market in healthcare,” said Gov. Walz.

The high cost of care is something Deborah Mills, a dairy farmer from Lake City, seen and experienced first-hand.

“I mean, we have people – heave healthcare of have health insurance, but they’re not getting healthcare because they’re spending all their money on premiums,” Mills said.

It’s a problem Gov. Walz hopes his ONECare MN plan will fix.

“ONECare provides an option for folks who don’t’ qualify for MinnesotaCare or medical assistance to be able to purchase a platinum product on the individual market that will hold down rates and give them the quality they need,” he said.

The governor’s healthcare budget would do a number of other things as well, like establish a health insurance tax credit and increase access to dental health.

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