Surprise amendment stuns Senate during debate over health care for poor

Apparently, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander.

That little truth came to light during Tuesday’s Senate debate over health care for the poor.

Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, introduced one of the GOP’s plans for cutting Human Services costs by taking about 15,000 single adults out of MinnesotaCare and giving them vouchers so they can buy their own health insurance.

Hann sang the praises of the bill: It will save the state money. It will give the poor more choices. It will improve the health care of the poor. It will get government out of health care. It’s the American way!

Then, Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, rose to speak. She offered a simple amendment to this GOP plan.

Sen. Barb Goodwin
Sen. Barb Goodwin

She said her amendment would require legislators to test the plan for two years, before the poor were forced into it.

“I hear what a wonderful deal this is for people,” Goodwin said. “We can determine if this plan is working as it should.”

Amendment greeted with silence
For a moment, you could have heard a pin drop in the Senate chambers. What? Us on this plan?

A rookie senator, Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, stood, clearly offended by Goodwin’s amendment.

“We’re citizen legislators,” she said, adding that she’d waived her right to receive the health insurance benefits that most legislators receive.

After proclaiming her own goodness, she attacked the Goodwin amendment.

“Political tomfoolery,” Hoffman said.

Again there was silence in the Senate. It had been years since anyone had heard the expression “tomfoolery.”

And later, Goodwin said that “tomfoolery” had never been applied to her before.

“People usually say I’m the sort of person who says things because I mean them,” Goodwin said.

Back up for a moment and look at the plan Hann sings the praises of but — as it turned out — wouldn’t want for himself.

Single working adults who have incomes of between 133 percent and 250 percent of poverty-level would no longer be covered by MinnesotaCare, the publicly subsidized health insurance program for the working poor that’s been in existence since 1990. Under MinnesotaCare, low-income working people pay premiums on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.

The Republican plan would force those earning between $14,400 and $30,000 off MinnesotaCare and into the “free” market. With the help of state vouchers, they could select the health insurance they want for themselves.

Hann says that by “allowing” these people to go into the free market, the state would save $100 million per biennium.

Waiver questions
Remember all that talk about “waivers” the GOP wants to receive from the federal government for insuring the poor? That figures into this bill.

Waivers aren’t needed to get single adults into the voucher program.

But the big savings — another $600 million a biennium, according to Hann — could come if the feds would allow Minnesota to use vouchers for families who receive state-assisted health care through programs such as MinnesotaCare.

Sen. David Hann
Sen. David Hann

As it is, the feds have a number of requirements — “burdensome mandates,” according to Hann — if states want federal financial support of state health care programs. The voucher system the state GOP is pushing apparently falls short in matching federal requirements for what health programs should offer.

In other words, the waivers Republican legislators seek aren’t gonna happen.

And there’s good reason for that, according to DFLers.

The voucher system that Hann and other GOPers speak so highly of would prove a disaster for the poor.

DFLers denounce voucher plan
Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, said the voucher plan would take away 60 percent of the benefits the poor currently get through MinnesotaCare.

Other DFLers got up to denounce the plan during Tuesday’s debate.

Sen. Linda Higgins, for example, said, “Do people know what 133 percent of poverty really is? That’s $14,484 for a single adult.”

High costs of purchasing even the worst of insurance programs would “not be workable,” she said. Those private insurance programs would have $3,000 deductibles, high co-pays and other costs that would make them unaffordable for the poor.

Republicans countered by saying that the current Human Services budget is “unsustainable” and that “the free market” would do a better job than the government in caring for the poor.

Hann even held up a letter. “The Chamber of Commerce supports this [voucher] bill,” he said, excitedly.

Citing the Chamber seldom wins over DFLers.

But citing the needs of the poor hardly wins over Republicans.

So the debate played out with nobody listening to anybody until Goodwin came up with her amendment.

“Put the legislators on this plan for the first two years,” she said.

Whoa. All the little conversations that usually go on during debates stopped.

Hann was taken by surprise.

“I’m just seeing this for the first time,” he said. “I would oppose this amendment. We’re talking about a plan for low-income Minnesotans. I’m not sure how this applies.”

“I think it’s pretty simple,” responded Goodwin. “Let’s try it on ourselves first.”

Most DFLers weren’t even amused by Goodwin’s simple what’s-good-for-the-goose idea.

Sen. Linda Berglin
Sen. Linda Berglin

Berglin, who fights so hard for the poor, said the Goodwin amendment was as unacceptable as the GOP voucher plan in general.

First, Berglin turned to Hoffman, who had so proudly proclaimed she doesn’t take the insurance benefits offered to legislators.

“We come from different circumstances,” Berglin said. “Some don’t need the insurance the job provides. Some do. I rise to tell you I can’t afford this kind of plan for my family. I won’t support your amendment, Sen. Goodwin.”

Little support for Goodwin’s amendments
Not many did. The amendment was voted down, 56-9.

Goodwin didn’t seem surprised.

“You didn’t like that one — maybe you’ll like this one,” Goodwin said.

She offered an amendment that would keep the GOP bill as written, but would add legislators to those being sent out with vouchers.

“We’re cutting health care for them,” Goodwin said. “We should be willing to do it to ourselves, too,” she said.

Hann rose again.

“I would oppose,” he said.

Most did. With little discussion — and no suggestions of “tomfoolery” — Goodwin’s second amendment was defeated, 50-15.

Ultimately, the GOP bill did pass on a party-line vote, 37-28, but it will be vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

And for at least the rest of this session, Goodwin likely will be known as “Sen. Tomfoolery,” which seems to amuse her.

“I’ve just never been called that until today,” she said.

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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Comments (46)

  1. Submitted by bernie hesse on 05/11/2011 - 09:54 am.

    Hurray for Senator Goodwin. Former Gov. Arne Carlson summed it up best the other night at community meeting that the voucher program is just a sham to grab the 600 million dollars and use it to balance the budget while further harming the folks who need care. I totally support a pilot project where the legislators would try out the proposed voucher system on themselves- and report back on how effective it was.

  2. Submitted by Bud Rosenfield on 05/11/2011 - 09:59 am.

    Good article. I’m sure there was a bit of gamesmanship going on with Goodwin’s amendment, but it points out how hypocritical, sanctimonious, and “entitled” this GOP-led legislature is. Their health care coverage is just as much a drain on taxpayers as MinnesotaCare, so why not impose the voucher system on themselves? As part-time legislators, they make at least twice what the people on the lower end of the MinnesotaCare eligibility group make. If it’s too costly for them, then it’s certainly too costly for the low income people they’re trying to discard. While I was disappointed by Berglin’s response, too, at least she opposes the GOP plan for exactly these reasons.

  3. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 05/11/2011 - 10:03 am.

    I swear, at times it seems as if conservative
    legislators think of the poor as some sort of conniving alien race that is devoted solely to sponging off middle-class Earthlings.

    I LOVE Senator Goodwin’s proposed amendment, a great reality check for the legislature and a test of whether they really believe in the Golden Rule.

  4. Submitted by myles spicer on 05/11/2011 - 10:03 am.

    Turning our nation’s health care over to the private sector? We’ve “been there, done that”. And where did it get us?

    Overpriced healthcare with mediocre results, and million uninsured.

    The only ones who would benefit from such a plan are the insurance companies who might gain some new customers (after they culled out those they choose to reject). The only ones to suffer, the poor who either have to come up with funds they don’t have, or go without insurance altogether.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/11/2011 - 10:43 am.

    Pardon my tomfoolery, but aren’t “citizen-legislators” working for US, rather than the other way ’round?

    Aren’t they public employees, and part-time ones at that, just as much as someone working on a MNDot road repair crew or a clerk in the state department of revenue who checks my income tax return? Why should legislators, working part-time, get health care coverage at taxpayer expense that those very same taxpayers can’t afford themselves?

    Bravo to Senator Goodwin. I agree with Mr. Rosenfield (#2) that there’s surely a bit of gamesmanship involved here, but there’s an element of not only common sense, but economic and social justice in her proposal. Why, indeed, should legislators be personally exempt from the consequences of their actions as legislators? Not only is a legislative trial for the Republican health care proposal a fine idea, the concept of a legislative trial for a good many other programs, not all of them from the perpetually-punitive right wing, seems like one with considerable potential for further exploration.

  6. Submitted by Cecil North on 05/11/2011 - 10:52 am.

    Way to go, Barb !!!

  7. Submitted by Rod Loper on 05/11/2011 - 11:17 am.

    The voters of Columbia Heights made a good choice
    when they sent Barb Goodwin to the senate. She is one of the few who ask searching questions in committee and on the floor of republicans crazy plans.

  8. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/11/2011 - 11:30 am.

    Senator Goodwin is my hero of the day for her tomfoolery.

    After having worked in Greater Minnesota for 9 years I was shocked at the inability of many both in the legislature or the bureaucracy to comprehend the challenges of the non metro area or even understand the benefit they derive from having a “Greater Minnesota.”

    Apparently the lack of understand and empathy extends to all “people who aren’t you”.

    Perhaps we should do an exchange program with all metro legislators going to live in communities of under 2,500 for 2 weeks just to see what it’s like.

    I think the ones supporting the Racino should go to Bena.

  9. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/11/2011 - 11:33 am.

    How many decades of proof do you need to know that private insurers are NOT containing cost effectively?

    It is the federal and government programs that are best at cost containment with private insurers and providers actively pushing legislation to PROHIBIT price negotiation by government with respect to health care pricing.

    United Health Group had $1.34 billion in profits in the first quarter. Do the math, those profits are the equivalent of half a million $1,000 premiums for each and every month (perhaps the equivalent of covering well over a million uninsured people).

    Getting a worse product for more money?

    Looks like that is the Republican free-market for you.

    • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 05/19/2019 - 03:05 pm.

      There is no incentive for private insurers to contain the costs of medical care. As long as they are allowed to pass the full cost of medical care to those who pay premiums, there is no reason for the industry to do anything except sit back and rake in the profits. Which is what the GOP tried to do in the legislature. When they got caught, they zipped up and RAN.

  10. Submitted by craig furguson on 05/11/2011 - 11:33 am.

    I agree with Sen Goodwin, the legislature should generally have to follow the same rules as they impose on others.

  11. Submitted by Jo Marsicano on 05/11/2011 - 11:46 am.

    Thanks for the story Doug. Did you hear Sen. Goodwin’s proposal today during the anti-gay constitutional amendment debate? Her amendment to the bill would outlaw divorce!!

  12. Submitted by Jim Roth on 05/11/2011 - 11:49 am.

    I too applaud Senator Goodwin for her commonsense approach. While we’re at it, why isn’t the legislature proposing cutbacks in its own budget along with all the other cutbacks? Are some people (or groups) “more equal than others”?

  13. Submitted by Alicia DeMatteo on 05/11/2011 - 11:50 am.

    I’d gladly swap “Sen. Tomfoolery” for my Sen. Hann any day!

  14. Submitted by William Levin on 05/11/2011 - 12:09 pm.

    Perhaps this could work in Congress also. The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program means our elected officials are better covered at lower cost than most of us are, with more choices, no waiting period, no precondition requirements…and the government (us) pays 75% of the premium!

  15. Submitted by Lance Groth on 05/11/2011 - 12:10 pm.

    In the spirit of this year’s legislative session and the drive to legislate by constitutional amendment, I suggest that we need an amendment to require the legislature to eat its own dog food any time they tinker with social programs.

    I also note that the party that likes to dump on the poor and is too good to live by the terms they wish to impose on others is also the one that accuses liberals of “class warfare”. Clearly, they have adopted Orwell’s “1984” as blueprint and field manual. Poverty is wealth. Sick is well. Hunger is a full belly. We have always been at war with the poor.

  16. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/11/2011 - 12:23 pm.

    Before I’m going to race headlong into offering this coverage option to Republican legislators, I need to get an answer to one question. Can these vouchers be used for mental health coverage?

  17. Submitted by Bryan Dohla on 05/11/2011 - 12:32 pm.

    1) “Turning our nation’s health care over to the private sector? We’ve “been there, done that”. And where did it get us?”

    When did this occur? Prior to the Great Society? You can’t honestly say with a straight face that our healthcare industry has been market-based since the mid 1960s. Sure, Michael Moore and the ideologues on the left will tell you that but its not factual. What has happened is that as the government injected itself into the marketplace (irresponsibly), it created a whole bunch of other problems, which liberals like Paul Wellstone or Ted Kennedy would legislate “solutions” for, which would create more problems, you see the cycle here? You cant expect people who dont understand the problem to have the ability to solve it. This state is just as ignorant as when republicans act like government has absolutely no role in the healthcare industry.

    2) “How many decades of proof do you need to know that private insurers are NOT containing cost effectively?”

    You do realize that you can make the EXACT same argument against government run programs right? Again, this statement is just more ideological ignorance.

    3) I think Goodwin’s amendment was fantastic! If only the legislators actually had to live within the rhetoric they spew. If this actually occurred then we wouldnt be force-fed this hyper partisan nonsense on a daily basis by both parties. The class warfare argument would finally be called out as the sham it is once liberals had to actually live with the results of their misguided policies. Laissez Faire markets would be so corrupt within months that even Ron Paul would be legislating “curbs” on what the markets can do!

  18. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/11/2011 - 12:57 pm.

    What the legislature really means:
    We don’t really want to help the working poor. We’d rather that they were unemployed in order to get benefits, then complain about all those lazy folks sucking off the teat of the taxpayer.

    Senator Goodwin, I’m sure you didn’t actually expect this to pass. It would have been great if it did, but its purpose was to point out the ridiculousness of the voucher system. Thank you. Unfortunately, many Minnesotans will not only remain blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy they elected, but many of them simply don’t care.

  19. Submitted by John Edwards on 05/11/2011 - 01:04 pm.

    How many decades of proof do you need to know that government insurance is NOT containing cost effectively and before Medicare finally goes broke?

  20. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 05/11/2011 - 02:35 pm.

    Jackson Cage (#16) asks, “Can these vouchers be used for mental health coverage?”

    They can, unless you choose to have lower premiums instead of mental health and addiction treatment coverage.

    Read the bill if you have time (HF 8, the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program). The state’s contribution would cover part of the cost of premiums.

  21. Submitted by James Blum on 05/11/2011 - 01:38 pm.

    I agree with the poster above who suggests we make OUR legislators be test cases for any proposal they put forth that impacts low-income citizens. If a legislator puts forth a proposal that impacts those making less than 250% of poverty-level income, they first have to impose that proposal on the entire legislature for a minimum of two years.

    God, if we could only do that at the federal level, too! Michelle Bachmann waiting in line for healthcare at the community clinic would be jaw-droppingly AWESOME. Sen. Goodwin FTW!

  22. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/11/2011 - 01:44 pm.

    It should be clear to all of us by now that today’s crop of “conservative” “Republicans” share nothing but a party label with those from back in the days when Republicans and Democrats BOTH cared about the well being of ALL the citizens of the State of Minnesota and simply disagreed with how to accomplish that well being.

    Essentially helping first and asking people to do more to help themselves later (typical Democrat)…


    Asking people to do everything possible for themselves first and only helping them when it became clear that they could not be successful at such efforts (typical Old-school Republican).

    These “new” “Republicans” probably would care about the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly, the children, etc., if they could expand their awareness enough to realize that such people exist.

    But the worldview their dysfunctions require them to wrap around themselves make invisible all those who do not appear to have moderate if not massive wealth at their disposal.

    The visceral, unshakeable rule by which they maintain their denial that there are any who are in need is their belief that…

    Anyone who is in need of help clearly does not DESERVE the help they need (but, of course, such help doesn’t count if you’re a Republican legislator or if you’re in “business”).

    If we seek to remind them of the existence of those in need, we get, uncomfortable silence (while their denial kicks in), then anger, even rage because we’re bumping them up against the compassion and empathy they are no longer capable of experiencing or expressing.

    Because of this, such people cannot be brought to greater awareness. Their frames of reference simply do not allow countervailing information to enter.

    They can only be opposed (Please, Gov. Dayton!), and replaced with healthier, old-school Republicans or Democrats as soon as possible.

  23. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/11/2011 - 01:45 pm.

    Clearly our Republican friends do like being put in positions which bump them up against their own hypocrisy.

  24. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/11/2011 - 02:39 pm.

    Mr. Dohla you need to be a bit more informed on the cost of our system vs. the cost of other systems in the industrialized world. That includes many versions of universal coverage.

    The US spends 16% of GDP on Health Care and our outcomes are lower. We spend 50% more than the next highest country Germany which has universal coverage. Forty nine countries have a longer life expectancy and embarrassingly there are 176 countries that have a lower infant mortality rate. You can glean these facts from such radical sources as the World Health Organization and the CIA fact book.

    Ask a nurse or the administrators in the doctor’s office. Better yet just look at a bill if you have private insurance – every bill is negotiated so that the insurance company pays the minimum. That is how you keep shareholder returns and profitability high.

  25. Submitted by Judy Finger on 05/11/2011 - 02:50 pm.

    I would like to see a list of the DFL members who voted against the amendment. Kudoos to Sen. Tomfoolery!!

  26. Submitted by Joel Jensen on 05/11/2011 - 02:59 pm.

    If the Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have done unto you”, what rule are these folks operating under?

    Conservative groups (including the Tea Party Patriots) still circulate chain-emails calling for a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution to require, in part, that members of “Congress will participate in the same health care system as the American people”.

    It’s still up for debate whether they are oblivious or devious in failing to mention that this is already required in what they like to call “ObamaCare”. *

    But when it is suggested that the members of the Minnesota House and Senate accept a similar requirement, it’s tomfoolery?

    We should also remember that this would push those trying to buy health insurance with the magic voucher-dust into the Individual Policy (not Group Policy) market, described as the “Subbasement of Health Insurance” for very good reasons (many of which are detailed here in a privious article in MinnPost by Casey Selix on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009 entitled “Individual policies: the subbasement of health insurance”

    * “Section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act clearly states that Members of Congress and their staffs are required to participate in plans or state exchanges created by the health care bill. Section 1312, Part D can be found here:


    (i) REQUIREMENT—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are—

    (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

    II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).

    (ii) DEFINITIONS—In this section:

    (I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS—The term ‘‘Member of Congress’’ means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

    (II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF—The term ‘‘congressional staff’’ means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.”

    So it’s good enough for ObamaCare, but not good enough for MN Republicans.

    From Rep. Owens (D-NY)

    Also available here at page 65/906 of pdf of the full text of the the ‘‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’’as enacted.

  27. Submitted by Annie Grandy on 05/11/2011 - 03:28 pm.

    #19 – The only reason Medicare (3% overhead, by the way) is having any financial difficulty is that, instead of being a a true insurance pool, compromise forced it to be a partial provider. Medicare provides services to the riskiest, highest incidence, most expensive part of the ‘pool’ while the least risky, lowest incidence, least expensive healthy portion of the ‘pool’ is left for the private insurance companies to bilk with exorbitant premiums. Then when the healthy get sick the private insurance companies’ death panels decide they will not cover the illness, place top stops on any amount they will cover, and raise premiums to even loftier heights. The solution? Keep Medicare solvent by putting everyone into the same insurance pool, aka single payer. Save Medicare! Make it single payer coverage for everyone, now!

  28. Submitted by Ernest Payne on 05/11/2011 - 03:38 pm.

    It is so pleasant to see that Minnesota does have a few responsible politicians. It helps offset (partially) the awfulness of the dimwitted Bachmann.

  29. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/11/2011 - 03:47 pm.

    Senator TomFoolery for President!

  30. Submitted by John Clawson on 05/11/2011 - 09:41 pm.

    Go, Barb!! None of this has anything to do with balancing the state’s budget. This is purely an ideological attack on poor peopel and the middle class….dismantling health care, starving higher education and our public schools, creating unfounded (and dangerous) doubt and suspicion on a system of elections that has repeatedly won national praise for fairness and efficiency and honesty, threatening to sell lumber from our natural heritage to pay current bills, gouging public employees, calling for popular-vote elections on basic human rights, 12 abortion bills, trying to effect a requirement for supermajority votes for revenue increases (thus guaranteeing as in Calfornia that there will be none) are neither jobs-creation legislation (we were sold a bill of goods on THAT pledge) nor were the basis of last fall’s election campaign….any candidate who came out and said ‘we’re gonna stick it to poor and disabled people by shorting them on health care, starve your schools, make sure your local property tax goes through the ceiling and pass a half dozen incendiary proposed constitutional amendments would never have been elected. The closest we came was Tom Emmer, and he couldn’t sell it. The bunch in the House and Senate won’t/can’t sell it either……There were/are plenty of ways to have brought the budget into balance without gutting Minnesota. You could eleminate EVERYTHING that goes on in the Capitol and the campus in Saint Paul and still not bring the budget into balance. The gang that assured us the end of teh session wouldn’t be a madhouse again (like every other year since 1858) has showed us that they are amateurs (in the bad sense of the word)and, with the Goodwin amendment, phonies to boot. And just BTW, virtually all of the social legislation being so crassly gutted this session was enacted by bi-partisan collaboration between the parties. LGA, higher ed, Met Council, MnCare, on and on.

  31. Submitted by Martin Moen on 05/11/2011 - 11:25 pm.

    The record of how they voted on Sen. Goodwin’s amendments can be found here:

    The record of the first vote – that failed 56-9 – appears at the bottom of page 1942. The record of the second vote – that failed 50-15 – appears in the middle of page 1945.

  32. Submitted by Dan Gerber on 05/12/2011 - 04:45 am.

    I’m responding as a former MNCare recipient. When
    my income increased at the end of 2008 I got a letter
    saying I no longer qualified to be able to keep that
    plan. I could have taken a cut in hours/pay to stay
    under the income guidelines, and possibly face “spendown”
    of assets as had also happened to me during my time
    on MNCare.

    Instead, I opted to test the “free” market so revered
    by some. Having a number of pre-existing conditions,
    I was denied any plan in the “free” market, and was
    at the mercy of MCHA, another plan run by the state of
    Minnesota. I had that plan for a year, (2009) and the
    monthly premiums for a non-smoking individual policy
    cost me nearly $400/mo. for $3,000 deductible with
    considerable raises in cost coming in a second year
    with that policy.

    The small company I work for added a plan for employees
    in 2010, and I took it. I’m paying about $200 a month
    for $3,000 deductible, however the company is helping
    with out a percentage of the deductible amount for it’s

    One of the factors that made me look to the “free” plans
    at the time was that annual hospitalization for MNCare
    enrollees would be limited to $10,000. Trust me, $10,000
    won’t cover much of a hospital stay.

    In defense of MNCare, I would say that I had regular
    checkups, and would seek routine medical care because
    it was affordable. Since then, and even with my company
    plan, I find myself rationing care because of the expense.

    Tomfoolery? Pushing people into the expensive “free” market!

  33. Submitted by William Pappas on 05/12/2011 - 05:56 am.

    Sorry, Bryan Dohla, giving the poor vouchers would basically remove them from insurance coverage. Many could not get it because of chronic health crisis caused by years of no insurance at all. Vouchers without competition is what this would be. The only real competition offered by either party is found on the Exchange created by the Affordable Patient Care Act. It will force insuranc companies to compete on an equal basis, require minimum coverages so people are not duped again and again by that small print, and require that policies are written so everyone, including the uneducated poor, can understand what they offer in coverage. That is just a small reform that insurance companies hate because it might dig into their obscene profits. Your ideological blinder make a reasonable assessment of the health care situation in Minnesota all but impossible. The voucher program is another republican fantasy based on lies and not facts. Stop this nonsense. Linda made a great point, one that the comfortable memebers of the Senate did not like at all since they know how impossible it is to sift through potential policies and coverage, especially if you are busy, working two jobs or simply don’t have the intelligence. What a joke.

  34. Submitted by Mary Ellen Amodeo on 05/12/2011 - 07:54 am.

    I am in favor of the proposed amendment. The voucher system sounds like encouragement to go on welfare in order to receive health care. The economy and community need low income jobs and the people that do them.

  35. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 05/12/2011 - 09:51 am.

    The Gang-Under-The Dome managed to expose their sense of elitism with the most archaic of phrases,”tomfoolery”.

    I suppose too many were so arrogantly offended by Goodwin’s wise suggestion, “You try it Mikey”; an idea deemed so offensive to the majority, that there will be no testing of the voucher system on themselves, no sir!

    I think what is exposed here is no small truth. Not one issue but one attitude among too many of our not-for-prime-time legislators, who wouldn’t be there in the first place if quality candidates had been available?

    Such provincial attitudes revealed here, follow on the heels of greater political changes…call it political elitism. Call it neo-fascism which has been rising like a bad seed in Europe lately. One could say, now it’s finding fertile ground and exhibiting that same growth potential in ‘Nice Minnesota?

    Elitism/neo-fascism;here too? Could be…

    Think of it as may be one of those fishy bottom feeders; ‘invasive species’…but this one does not come clinging to the bottoms of boats but the bottoms of…you name it.

  36. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/12/2011 - 10:58 am.

    I wrote Senator Goodwin; she appreciated the note of support. I encourage others to show her support, as well. Her contact info is here:

    Further, those that are represented by someone other than Senator Goodwin should go here:

    Write to your senator to voice your displeasure.

  37. Submitted by Bruce Bednarek on 05/12/2011 - 01:59 pm.

    Wow!! Congratulation Sen. Barb Goodwin. A down to earth, sensible approach to a problem that is being kicked around by people who have forgotten that they are supposed to represent the people of Minnesota and not the special interests of their self selected political parties. Amazing on how the rhetoric stops on all fronts when presented with a thought/recommendation that might impact them – OH MY GOD, YOU MEAN I MIGHT HAVE TO LIVE WITH THIS TOO???? Whats a better test of a process than to have it tried by the designers themselves.

    We need more like Senator Goodwin who can see the big picture and the impact that self centered opinions and plans as proposed by Senator Hann will have on Minnesota Citizens

  38. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 05/12/2011 - 02:45 pm.

    Thank you for this article, Mr. Grow. Thanks to Arne Carlson and legislators like Barb Goodwin and journalists like you, those now on MinnCare and Medicaid may at last find out what the Republican majority has it store for them.

    One commenter above thinks that vouchers would be an incentive to go on welfare. The vouchers cover only part (80% max) of the cost of premiums. Out of pocket expenses are in the thousands of dollars before insurance will provide full coverage for anything beyond preventive care.

    Believe me, no one WANTS to go on welfare. MinnCare was established to assure access to care to low income workers; this bill would kill that promise.

    Seems to me someone mentioned that this legislation is a “pretend” solution. Yep.

  39. Submitted by Mark Heuring on 05/13/2011 - 07:55 am.

    I have a question. Barb Goodwin is in her first Senate term, as is Gretchen Hoffman. Why is Hoffman a labeled a “rookie” and Goodwin is not?

  40. Submitted by Susan Rego on 05/13/2011 - 06:46 pm.

    “Why is Hoffman labeled a “rookie” and Goodwin is not?”

    Maybe because Barb Goodwin served 3 terms in the state House. She retired in 2006.

  41. Submitted by Miguel Herrera on 05/13/2011 - 07:59 pm.

    Bankrupt the state. Bankrupt the USA. Who cares? Go for it liberals!

  42. Submitted by John Hoffman on 05/14/2011 - 03:27 pm.

    In Matthew 25:31-46, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus proclaims that how you treat the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and other “least of these,” is how you treat Jesus himself:
    ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45. Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.
    If you have failed to help the “least of these,” Jesus promises, he will send you to “eternal punishment”.

    Three cheers for Senator Goodwin!!! May her “tomfoolery” get her into Heaven.

  43. Submitted by richard owens on 05/15/2011 - 09:39 am.

    MinnesotaCare has been funded by a tax on doctor visits. By moving MnCare funds to the General Fund, as during Pawlenty, the GOP is now trying to raid it AGAIN to the tune of $600 million, ironically shorting the healthcare system in order to pay for the past unpaid, shifted costs.

    I am impressed by Rep. Goodwin’s astute “test”.

    I wonder- did doctors who funded MnCare from their own receipts now happy to fund State shortfalls entirely outside healthcare? I doubt it.

    This deliberately drives up the cost of healthcare to everyone.

  44. Submitted by will lynott on 05/15/2011 - 04:53 pm.

    “Why is Hoffman labeled a “rookie” and Goodwin is not?”

    Watch both in action awhile, as I have, and you will understand.

  45. Submitted by James Hamilton on 05/15/2011 - 09:16 pm.

    I hope we’ll see a follow up piece telling us exactly what our legislators receive in terms of health care benefits. They appear to be paid about 275% of the poverty level for a single person, for less than 5 months in session. Many metro legislators take per diem to boot, even though they sleep at home every night.

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