Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is for: better health care, lower costs, nobody getting whacked from their health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, a “uniquely American approach” to resolving the health care crisis.
There you have it.
The state’s senior senator spent an hour on a telephone conference call with 10,000 Minnesotans Sunday evening. Most of them still must be scratching their heads. In the midst of this health care crisis, what sort of reform does the senator stand for?
One caller tried hard to pin her down.
“Do you support a public (health insurance) option?” he asked.
That seemed to call for a “yes” or “no” answer.
The caller got neither.
Instead, here’s what he got: “I will tell you this,” the senator said. “I’m open to a competitive option. You need to put pressure on the insurance companies. One way to do that [is allow the public to join] the federal health care plan or one just like it. The government does administer it, but it’s a private plan. That’s one way. And then there’s this co-op plan proposal [in the Senate]. That really hasn’t been formed yet. Those are some of the ideas. I want to make sure whatever option we choose works for our state. Make sure it makes it easier for small businesses and the self-employed.”
Presumably by now, most of us have a pretty good idea where we stand. Single payer, public option, status quo, tort reform, a gymnasium on every corner. Something.
But not our senator.
“This is complex,” Klobuchar said a few times.
She also said that “it’s very personal,” which is why it’s such an emotional issue.
She also said that the ideas she heard Sunday night “she’ll take back to Washington” and try to apply to whatever health bill emerges.
Fortunately, the senator and her two guests — Dr. Denis Cortese, the CEO of the Mayo Clinic, and Mary Wakefield, a nurse who is the Obama administration’s rural health care advocate — had time to answer only a dozen or so questions. Had all 10,000 people listening in had a chance to speak up, Klobuchar would have needed a freight train to haul all the ideas back to Washington.
Her own ideas?
Well, that’s very hard to say.
She talked about fish hook injuries in Park Rapids. She talked about stomach ruptures in La Crescent. She talked about how “one of every six dollars” in the country is spent on health care. (She implied that’s too much.) She talked about how health care costs are rising three times faster than wages. (She implied that that’s a problem.)
None of this is particularly surprising to most Americans.
But Klobuchar isn’t about to say what she thinks ought to be done.
“I know this can be a contentious issue,” she said. “There’s not yet a final bill in the Senate. I’m getting ideas from the people.”
Lest you think the senator is waffling, she did say she wants “a sensible workable solution.”
“In the end, whatever we do has to be meaningful,” she said. “It has to control costs and improve quality otherwise we shouldn’t do it.”
So there you go.