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With An Eye to the Future

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2004: Health Care Cost Commission

Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed a Health Care Cost Commission, with former U.S. Senator David Durenberger serving as Chair, to help bring about health care reform and cost containment in Minnesota. The group was called the Minnesota Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs and it was tasked with battling what was referred to as a "crisis of affordability." Its 18 members traveled the state for three months, conducting Town Hall meetings and listening sessions, gathering ideas from fellow citizens on what the state's health care system should look like.

"There's no question in my mind that we can find a great deal of common ground in health care reform," said Governor Pawlenty. "We can't afford to politicize this issue, but need to come together on real solutions designed to cut health care costs for Minnesotans."

Senator David Durenberger
Former Senator David Durenberger

The Preliminary Recommendations Report was called "Listening to Minnesotans: Transforming the Minnesota Health Care System."

The Minnesota Citizens Forum worked with the Minnesota Board on Aging and the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities to develop and conduct a 20-minute telephone survey of a representative sample of 800 Minnesotans. The resulting Health Care Opinion Poll obtained measures of satisfaction with health care quality and costs, perceptions regarding changes in costs and payment responsibilities, and preferences for universal health care versus private health care insurance.

The poll found that among Minnesotans who are currently insured, older citizens and higher income citizens are significantly more likely to give a good or excellent rating of their personal health insurance coverage, as compared to younger and-or lower income Minnesotans. Other findings were:

  • Most Minnesotans (4 of 5) believe all Americans should have health care coverage, even if it means raising taxes.
  • While only a relative few Minnesotans (7%) have bought prescription drugs from a foreign country, a clear majority (87%) believe it should be legal.
  • Among the Minnesota population as a whole, a slight majority (56%) would favor a universal system where the government ensures that everyone has health coverage, over a private system that relies on individuals and employers to provide for their own health care needs.
  • While most Minnesotans are satisfied with the quality of health care in the U.S., well over half are dissatisfied with its costs.
  • Satisfaction with health care costs is related to income. Those in the highest income category are most likely to be satisfied with the amount they pay for health care. Among those whose total annual household income is less than $50k, one out of three are very dissatisfied with their health care costs.
  • 17% of Minnesota households reported having someone in the household with a disability. Those households had a lower percentage of incomes over $50,000 (35% vs. 48%); and they were more likely to be worried about the future affordability of health care insurance.

Former Senator David Durenberger gave a presentation about the need for 21st century healthcare to become consumer-focused and accessible to all.