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GOP response: Sen. Hann disputes Dayton/DFL’s health exchange plan

Sen. David Hann, the Republican voice of health insurance, disputes that Republicans ever supported something that looks like a health care exchange.

Sen. David Hann, the Republican voice of health insurance, disputes that Republicans ever supported something that looks like a health care exchange.

He also disputes that Republicans ever were sincerely invited to join the governor’s task force to come up with an exchange. And he disputes that Gov. Mark Dayton or DFLers are serious in an attempt to pass an exchange program through this legislative session.

In a conversation early this afternoon, Hann denied the substance of just about every phrase that was uttered at a morning news briefing about the progress of a Minnesota-created health care exchange.

In short, it doesn’t look even remotely possible that a health care exchange will be approved by the GOP majorities in the House or Senate.

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This morning, many involved in the cross section of business, labor and government officials who make up the exchange task force said that the idea really was born of Republicans in the 1990s.

Hann disagrees with their conclusion: “All they [the Obama and Dayton administrations] did is co-opt the name exchange,” Hann said. “The Heritage Foundation [in the 1990s] did propose something that was called an exchange, but the purpose was to create an opportunity for individuals to have the same advantages as businesses when it came to purchasing health insurance.”

Essentially, that seems to mean that individuals should have the right to get tax breaks for payments made for health insurance now available to business.

What of Dayton’s claims that Republicans turned down the opportunity to have four positions on the task force formed by the governor?

“They [the governor’s office] put out some sort of a thing on email that we could have four ex-officio spots on the task force but wouldn’t be able to vote,’’ Hann said. “It wasn’t serious. If you’re really wanting to pass a bill, you’d think they’d take every opportunity to talk to the majority.”

No serious talks have taken place, said Hann. “They don’t even have a bill.”

That’s one point of agreement. DFL legislators said this morning that they will use the just-completed report by the task force to come up with a bill.

“We’ll have a bill of our own,” Hann said. “We’re going to address what are the impediments to accessibility and affordability. Some will probably be in line with what they [the task force] have come up with; some won’t.”

He said he doesn’t really believe that most businesses — or the major business organizations — really support anything that looks like the exchange idea that will be put forward by DFLers.

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“I will wait to see the bill,” Hann said, “but …”

Hann clearly has mistrust of anything the Dayton administration proposes regarding health care. He believes all that’s being done is “to line up Minnesota with Obama-care.”

But those who unveiled the task force report this morning said it’s vital for Minnesota to come up with its own plan for an exchange so, in the words of  DFL Sen. Tony Lourey, “the feds don’t do it for us.”

That’s a smokescreen, Hann said.

He said Republican legislators want “a Minnesota approach” to all of health care, not just an exchange.

If DFLers truly were concerned about doing things “the Minnesota way,” Hann said, they would work with Republicans in the Legislature.

The entire goal of health care reform and such parts as exchanges are “so a bunch of federal bureaucrats can micro-manage the insurance industry,” he said.