Governor's Citizen Health Care Forum Lacks Citizens

(St. Paul, Minnesota) The Governor's Citizens Forum on Health Care appears to represent managed care and the health care industry, not citizens, says Twila Brase, president of Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC).

"Since there is almost no representation of citizen groups on the Governor's Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs*, we find the name a bit puzzling. With the group's membership, the forum's mission is not likely to be oriented toward citizens and patients," says Brase.

"It is disappointing that the governor has chosen to establish a forum heavily weighted towards continuing and expanding the bureaucracy of health care," Brase adds.

Instead of average citizens, Brase says most members of the Citizens Forum represent organizations and ideas that have not proven to have in the best interest of the public:

  • The Minnesota Business Partnership testified in support of explicit health care rationing during the 2003 legislative session. The Partnership is represented on the Citizens Forum by Robert L. Senkler, a director (and CEO of a life insurance company), and Duanne Benson, executive director of MBP. Benson was one of the seven legislators who successfully drafted the 1992 legislation that made managed care the dominant force in Minnesota.
  • The Minnesota Health Care Commission, which began in 1992, assisted in the growth of managed care throughout Minnesota. Former members of the Commission now appointed to the Citizens Forum include Tom Swain, former chair of the Commission, Ray Christianson, MD, Duluth School of Medicine, and Pete Benner, Executive Director of the Minnesota State Employee Union, AFSCME.
  • Mayo Clinic, represented on the Citizens' Forum by Douglas Wood, has a history of opposing legislation to require patient consent for access to private medical data.
  • Glen Nelson, Chairman, GDN Holdings, is a member of the Jackson Hole Group, the group that is credited with helping Congress pass the HMO Act of 1973, and bringing managed care to the nation.

Of the remaining members, three represent clinics or health care centers,two are corporate executives (Fallenstein and Twomey), two represent minority populations (disabled and Latino), and three have political connections: Pam Wheelock was the Commissioner of Finance for Governor Ventura; former Senator Durenberger has long been a strong proponent of managed care, and Moe has supported expanding government health care.

"This is not a citizens' forum. This is a group with strong ties to managed care and weak ties to the average citizen. We are not likely to see the needs and values of the public represented in whatever policy this group supports," says Brase.

"These are basically the same old players doing the same old things. We expect them to push managed care, to assert the need for collection of private medical record information, and to ignore the real needs of patients," Brase adds.

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* The word "Costs" was accidently omitted from the original press release.


Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935