New Governor Arne Carlson completed his demonstration of total disregard for his constituents on June 3rd by vetoing the Health Care Access Bill. We’ve got to admit that he is a cunning fellow and that he put one over on us, smiling and lying in his campaign, then turning on almost everyone except wealthy individuals and big business groups. We just didn’t want to believe his former Republican friends who warned us not to trust this guy.
Let’s see, now. He vetoed a DFL tax bill raising $450 million and conservatively negotiated a new one raising $650 million. He’s for companies who hire permanent replacements for strikers (although the practice gives him “cause for concern”). He doesn’t want to help less affluent individuals save energy, and he doesn’t want small employers to pay less for worker’s compensation insurance. He prefers to see insurance companies control health care for Minnesotans, after being shown the disastrous results of that policy. And there’s more.
While state auditor, he derided the actions of Governor Perpich in trying to entice General Motors into building a new auto plant in the state saying in effect that it was a foolhardy investment. He has now approved a plan to finance almost a billion dollar expansion for Northwest Airlines, a company that is far weaker financially than GM, and who’s owners are holdovers from the fast buck junk bond dealers of the Reagan years.
Of course, the most offensive action to us is the veto of the Health Care Access bill. Minnesota was to be a trend setter in the nation in this piece of legislation, even the watered down version which finally passed. The important feature was the commitment being made. Minnesota was about to demonstrate that we were willing to join the ranks of the human beings of the world, but chose instead to stick with the policies of insurance companies and our only ally in the developed world, South Africa. You remember, of course, that every other developed country in the world has a national health care plan for its citizens. Colonel Qaddafi may not be our idea of a proper leader, but Libyans have free health care, one and all.
In Minnesota we’re a careful group, you know, even though we have a tradition of trying to make this a better place to live. When the health care mechanisms became so obviously deficient a few years back, a commission was formed to study the problem. This was no fly-by-night group. This was a big-time study done by real experts, a competent staff and hundreds of volunteers who had a real interest in defining the problem and working out solutions. The result was available to this legislature and a majority of our senators and representatives read the material, found it convincing and acted on it.
The commission found that universal access to health care is an economy in the long run, not a “budget buster”. Most of the money is spent anyway in less efficient delivery of services, while jeopardizing the health of about 700,000 citizens. Infant mortality numbers are six times higher for uninsured infants than for those able to afford private coverage. Finally, more delay in solving the problem means more ultimate cost.
The bill as passed didn’t fully implement the recommendations, but it did make a commitment to the ideas so carefully formulated. In these days of tax obsession and short term quick fixes to the bottom line, this seemed a creditable move toward doing the right thing.
Now comes Governor Carlson with a veto. This is not just a direct rejection of the two years of study which led to this legislation, but an upright finger given to those who worked on it. His excuses were ridiculous and his proposal for a new five year study involving 10,000 people is absurd. Insurance companies will applaud and more citizens will suffer as rates go up and cancellations multiply.
The people who worked on the commission and the legislators who voted for this bill will now concur with the governor’s old associates. Don’t trust this guy!