UPDATE (5/2/19): So far, the Senate has decided to punt on this issue by extending the current moratorium on HMO conversions from July 2019 to July 2023, instead of passing strong protections for our public money this year. During debate on the Senate floor, Senator Michelle Benson referred to Senator John Marty’s provision to protect nearly $7 billion of the people’s assets held by Minnesota’s nonprofit insurance companies as “overreach.” There is still time to call and ask your Senator to support the strong language recommended by our Attorney General that is in the House bill; the final contents of this bill will be negotiated through the conference committee process for the next week or two before any of it becomes law.
Call this Morning: Don't Let For-Profit HMOs Run Away with Billions in Public Money
Every person is inherently valuable and deserves quality healthcare. But right now, our healthcare system often puts corporate profits ahead of this basic human need. Unless our Legislature acts now, Minnesota risks going even further in the wrong direction by letting for-profit insurance corporations run away with billions of dollars in public assets. Our state Senate is set to vote TODAY (April 30) on a bill that fails to include strong enough protections to stop this healthcare heist. Your Senator needs to hear from you now: click here to make the call!
What's at Stake
In 2017, Minnesota removed a decades-old requirement that health insurers operating here be nonprofits. Now, nonprofit insurers like Medica, HealthPartners, Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota, and UCare could soon convert to for-profit status. Although nonprofit HMOs fail to meet the needs of all Minnesotans for affordable, high-quality healthcare coverage, letting them become officially for-profit could have even worse consequences, unless we act.
When they convert, their non-profit assets essentially become profits, and these companies have a lot of assets — almost $7 billion! They have greatly benefited from tax breaks and being allowed to administer public healthcare programs. This money is, by law, held in trust for the Minnesota public. In other words, that's our money. But soon, it could legally go straight into the pockets of corporate executives and shareholders. That's what happened in multiple other states when these conversions took place.
We can stop it from happening here!
What You Can Do
Today (April 30), the Minnesota Senate is set to vote on a Health and Human Services Policy Bill that does not include good enough language to protect this nearly $7 billion in public money. By contrast, the Minnesota House has passed strong protections that include a robust, public, and community-based process to make sure people have a say about any proposed HMO conversion and how reclaimed assets should be used. Please take a few minutes this morning to ask your state Senator to back these strong measures to stop the healthcare heist. Click here for your Senator's phone number and a suggested message for your call.
For more background on this issue, read the recent Star Tribune editorial, "Prevent 'corporate raids' on treasuries of Minnesota's nonprofit health plans," which called on the Legislature to act.
It is the role of our government to ensure that public resources are used for the public good, not taken away for excessive private gain, and it is up to all of us to make sure our elected officials fulfill this role. Thank you for taking action! Please contact Paul Sobocinski or Johanna Rupprecht if you have questions.