NOTE: Today, the Land Stewardship Project joined allies TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Minnesota
Nurses Association to confront Medica officials at their Minnetonka, Minn., headquarters. The HMO has put profit before people and transferred $120 million from its nonprofit Minnesota HMO to its for-profit Wisconsin insurance businesses. Below is LSP board member Aleta Borrud’s statement at the action.
I am Aleta Borrud, a doctor and member of the Land Stewardship Project. It is so necessary to be here with you to hold Medica accountable. Being here demonstrates that we’re watching and we’re willing to fight to hold accountable those who are paid to ensure healthcare for us.
What has Medica done? It expropriated $120 million of the people’s money. OUR MONEY! This is money that citizens of Minnesota paid out for premiums, or in taxes to fund our public programs for healthcare. Legislative leaders facilitated this by stripping out rules to prevent this. They said these companies could transfer out insubstantial amounts. Do we think $120 million is an insubstantial amount?
As we know, there was a battle this year to reduce the scandalously high premium rates in the individual market. To get the one-year Band-Aid, our legislative leaders failed us. They put corporate interests above the public good and bargained away a 40-year history mandating that companies who insure our healthcare do not profit from our vulnerability.
Attorney General Lori Swanson warned us that, in doing this, the insurance companies could abandon all principle. She warned they could expropriate the billions of dollars they squirreled away through their nonprofit status. The $2.5 billion held in reserve was supposed to cushion losses, and thus rate increases, by these corporations.
I am here because family farmers need us to take on these fights. Being self-employed, they are disproportionately affected by the shenanigans going on in the health insurance markets. And they live in rural communities with disproportionate numbers of people on our public programs: Medicare and Medical Assistance. Many rural residents are also utilizing the MNsure insurance exchange. As a doctor, this fight is as important to ensuring care for people as any work I might do in the hospital.
Many of us at this moment think: “What would Wellstone do?” In our hearts, we know. He would fight like hell against the corporate greed that puts profits before people and their health. So we are here to tell Medica that their actions are immoral.
More information on LSP’s Affordable Healthcare for All work is available here.