MN Announces Sweeping Health-Care Reforms

November 29, 2004 ( - Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on Monday unveiled a series of health-coverage reforms with the cornerstone of the program being a purchasing cooperative.

A news release posted on Pawlenty’s Web site said the purchasing alliance will encourage members “to pursue common principles in their (health) purchasing decisions.” Members will still purchase coverage individually, but Pawlenty said he hopes the common principles of health quality will “utilize market forces to drive improvement in the health care delivery system.”

Those purchasing principles include:

  • Requiring or Rewarding “Best in Class” Certification. The alliance will use certification programs as one measure of health care quality and certification will be one criterion in choosing providers and encouraging patients to use the best providers.
  • Adopting and Utilizing Uniform Measures of Quality and Results
  • Empowering Consumers with Easy Access to Information about health care cost and quality.
  • Demanding better technology use.

According to the announcement, the alliance already represents more than three-fifths of Minnesota’s health care consumers and more groups are expected to join. Existing members include:

  • The State of Minnesota, including the Departments of Employee Relations and Human Services
  • Buyer’s Health Care Action Group (BHCAG)
  • Minnesota Business Partnership, representing Minnesota’s largest employers
  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
  • Labor/Management Health Care Coalition of the Upper Midwest
  • Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) Employers Association
  • Advocates for Market Place Options for Mainstreet (AMOM).

“Total health care costs are rising at the rate of nearly $300,000 per hour in Minnesota,” said Pawlenty in his statement. “On average, total health care costs per household in Minnesota are $14,000 per year, more than many Minnesotans pay for their mortgages or rent.”

Pawlenty’s plan also creates incentives for individuals and employers to use “health savings accounts” which operate similar to IRAs, but are used for health care expenses. The plan also streamlines paperwork, bureaucracy and regulations in the health care delivery system.