Prepare Citizens For Future Without Medicare

In only 23 years, Medicare Part A (hospitalization) will be insolvent, according to the just released Medicare Trustees Report. This is four years sooner than reported by last year's trustees. In 2026--only 61 years after Medicare was enacted into law--the hospital trust fund will run out of money unless health care services are sharply reduced, payments to health care practitioners are cut significantly, or payroll taxes are almost doubled.

Bipartisan Senate Bill to Stop State Health Database Introduced

Senator Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) this morning introduced a bill to repeal the Minnesota health department's authority to collect medical record information without patient consent.

INCREASE IN MINNESOTA'S HEALTH CARE TAX SET FOR 2004

The MinnesotaCare provider tax on health care services was established in 1992, and set at 2 percent. However, in 1997, the Minnesota legislature temporarily reduced the tax to 1.5 percent beginning January 1998. For five years - half the life of the tax - the legislature has maintained that temporary reduction. However, on January 1, 2004, the tax will increase to 2 percent unless the legislature moves to extend the reduction - a move that could be made more difficult by the fact that the Pawlenty budget is based on the tax returning to 2 percent.

CCHC OFFERS LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE 18 SUGGESTIONS FOR "DOING MORE WITH LESS"

The Minnesota Health and Human Services Finance Committee has been holding hearings on "Doing More with Less". The public, individuals and organizations, have been asked to share their ideas, and according the committee chair, the ideas have been pouring in. The last hearing to provide such testimony may be tomorrow, Thursday, February 6.

BUSH MEDICARE PLAN IS BOON FOR HMOs, NOT PATIENTS

Brase, whose article "Blame Congress for HMOs" was published in the 2001 Congressional Record of the U.S. House of Representatives, claims that the latest proposal is just another step in what is now a 30-year process. She says that HMOs could never have gained dominance in health care without the endorsement of Congress through the passage of the HMO Act of 1973.

GOVERNOR VENTURA'S "NO VETO" OF HEALTH DATA RULE PLACES PRESSURE ON MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE

A 1993 health care cost containment and redesign law allowed the state health department to write the rule. The law specifically states that patient consent is not necessary for data disclosure and collection. After working for nearly 10 years to devise a uniform data collection system, the department released a proposed rule in August 2002 to implement the law. The rule required most insurers and hospitals to collect detailed patient information starting January 2003 with the first annual transmission to the Minnesota Department of Health by July 2004. An email campaign by CCHC forced the department to hold a hearing on the rule on October 4, 2002. On December 2, the administrative law judge ruled in support of the department. Governor Ventura had until December 26 to veto the rule. Since he did not veto the rule, it can be implemented as early as January 6, 2003.

JUDGE'S RULING: MINNESOTA CITIZENS HAVE NO RIGHT TO MEDICAL PRIVACY

"We're disappointed that the ruling did not acknowledge the right of citizens to control their own personal health information," said Twila Brase, president of Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC), which forced the department to hold a hearing on the proposed rule.

PROPOSED FEDERAL GUIDANCE THREATENS PATIENT ACCESS TO MEDICATION

Federal officials have published a proposal to place the pharmaceutical industry under ongoing federal scrutiny. December 2, 2002 is the last day for the public to comment on the proposal.

CCHC REPORT PROFILES THE PUBLIC'S RESPONSE TO MINNESOTA'S PLAN TO COLLECT PRIVATE MEDICAL RECORD INFORMATION

Although Congress has just passed the Homeland Security Act to expand government surveillance powers across America, the people of Minnesota have spoken up in opposition to health surveillance.

OREGON WAS RIGHT TO REJECT UNIVERSAL COVERAGE

Oregonians made the right choice by rejecting a single-payer system. The approval of a government health care system FOR all citizens would have signaled the beginning of health care rationing TO all citizens," said Twila Brase, president of Citizens' Council on Health Care, a Minnesota-based health care policy organization.