As we continue to debate or, more accurately, hurl insults at one another about health care reform my good friend on the other side of the aisle, Gary Gross of Let Freedom Ring, has tried to claim that Representative Steve Gottwalt has the magic bullet for reform and that Democrats simply have not listened. In his most recent rant, Gross brings it up once again:

Saying that Republicans haven’t proposed health care solutions is either ignorance-driven or it’s plain dishonest. I’ve written more than a few times about Steve Gottwalt’s Healthy Minnesota Plan legislation.

Shortly after the last session ended, both Tarryl Clark and Larry Hosch sat down at a Senate District 14 DFL meeting and I asked Representative Hosch about the Gottwalt bill. I had left it in the file drawer but given that Mr. Gross wants to discuss the viability of the plan set forward by Representative Gottwalt I pulled it out and put it up on youtube:

Representative Hosch directed me to the fiscal note for this particular bill which has this to say:

The assumption that this bill is cost-neutral on an accrual (service year) basis is a default position which we take because this proposal constitutes a completely new method of purchasing, for which DHS has no relevant experience. The effects of private market rates, including private market inflation, and of underwriting, and the extent of expected MCHA losses are all areas of great uncertainty. The specification of the benefit set required by the bill is very general, which adds to the uncertainty about the expected fiscal result, because it is not possible to evaluate how attractive the new product may be to potential applicants compared to the existing product. Thus our assumption of cost-neutrality should not be interpreted as the result of analysis, but as a statement of our inability to advise the Legislature whether this bill should be expected to cost money or to save money, or to what extent. A 30% to 40% variance from cost-neutrality -- in either direction -- should be considered entirely possible. It is assumed that the systems work required for this proposal will allow implementation to begin January 1, 2011. [Emphasis Mine]
So what is the point? While Mr. Gross and Mr. Gottwalt would like you to believe that they have the key to reform, it is clear that this particular bill is not ready until many of its questions are answered with more certainty. The bill could cost us more money in MCHA which is the states high risk pool. The benefit set could be worse than MnCare. Also, this is a high deductible plan which is good for those who have money, but bad for those with little which is exactly the population this will cover. High deductible plans are the number one driver to increased bankruptcies that cite medical costs as the primary reason for the bankruptcy.

There certainly is the potential of this bill working out as a part of the solution to health care problems but it is entirely disingenuous for Mr. Gross and Mr. Gottwalt to claim that it is ready to be implemented or that it would clearly solve any issues.