Senate GOP committee plan highlights health care

Minnesota Senate Republicans are promising changes in state health care policy next session, and their new committee structure reflects that priority.

Senate Majority Leader-designate Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said Tuesday that the reorganization for 2017 includes three panels that will deal with health care costs, access and reform issues.

Just two weeks after the election, Gazelka said he believes health care is the reason Republicans are now in charge of the Senate.

“That was the number one concern that people brought up,” Gazelka said.

Gazelka said he expects the work on state changes, including the state insurance exchange MNsure, will be done at the same time the GOP-controlled Congress begins dismantling the federal Affordable Care Act.

“There’s a number of things we can do right away,” he said. “For example, we know that the high-risk pool has to be broadened in some form. That’s part of what is causing the rates to be so high in MNsure. So, that really doesn’t matter if they dismantle it or not. We have to work on that.”

Under the new Senate committee structure, Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, will chair the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, will chair the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee and Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, will chair the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee.

Gazelka said he hopes to “bend the spending curve” in human services, which is one of the biggest pieces of the state budget.

There are 22 returning Republican Senators, and each will chair a committee. There are three fewer committees than when Democrats were in charge.

Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, will chair a newly combined committee on State Government Finance and Policy and Elections.

Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state, said she’s interested in looking at “all kinds of ideas” for improving the election system, including voter ID. Despite voters’ rejection of a voter ID constitutional amendment in 2012, Kiffmeyer contends that Minnesotans “largely” support such a requirement.

“There were people that didn’t like the idea of changing the constitution, or there was some confusion interjected into the discussion,” Kiffmeyer said.

Still, Kiffmeyer said she plans to initially focus on basics like election management “before stepping out a little further.”

Here’s the full Senate committee list:

Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Chair: Housley
Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Chair: Westrom
Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Policy Chair: Weber
Capital Investment Chair: Senjem
Commerce and Consumer Protection Chair: Dahms
E-12 Finance Chair: Nelson
E-12 Policy Chair: Pratt
Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Chair: Osmek
Environment and Natural Resources Finance Chair: Ingebrigtsen
Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Chair: Ruud
Finance Chair: Rosen
Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Chair: Benson
Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Chair: Abeler
Higher Education Finance and Policy Chair: Fischbach
Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Chair: Miller
Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Chair: Limmer
Local Government Chair: Hall
Rules and Administration Chair: Gazelka
State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Chair: Kiffmeyer
Taxes Chair: Chamberlain
Transportation Finance and Policy Chair: Newman
Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Chair: B. Anderson
  • wjc

    Kiffmeyer: Voters rejected the constitutional amendment for Voter ID, but they are really for it.

    Delusional much?

    • Ralphy

      I’ll have what Kiffmeyer’s having…

    • tiffiny vanvorken

      it will pass the next time.

      • Ralphy

        Why is it a good idea?
        Have you looked at a single cost-benefit analysis?
        Do you know what a cost-benefit analysis is?
        If passed, it will likely get struck down by the courts. Unless this time it is radically different than all the others and completely inclusive rather than a tool for voter suppression.
        Which is more harmful to our democracy – a vote denied or a (fantasy) illegal vote?

  • tiffiny vanvorken

    we need voter ID. I have to show my ID to my doctor of 25years. There is no fraud in patients and doctors.

    • Cat

      Hate to burst your bubble, but there is. Some patients purport to be someone else, even bringing in the other person’s ID when they have similar appearance. This comes from my daughter who works in a medical clinic.

    • Ralphy

      Per the FBI:
      Health Care fraud costs the US taxpayers and insurance industry $80 Billion per year. So yeah, health care fraud is a big deal.

      On the other hand, study after study, from both parties and academics, have shown there is virtually no voter fraud.
      I have better ways to spend my tax money than solving problems that don’t exist – especially when the solution creates real problems.