Last week's EP News featured a Q&A with our local legislators. Rep Maria Ruud (42A- Eden Prairie/S. Mtka) is letting her liberal side shine through (getting bolder after winning her last election by a good margin).
On the health and human services budget…Ruud says:
When you’re talking about health and human services, for the most part you are talking about the elderly and the disabled.
It is a growing part of our budget. That is partly, to a great part, due to the fact of our changing demographics. People are aging. People are living longer, people have disabilities that are living longer as well. Clearly our goal is the protect the most vulnerable. There’s no doubt there are going to be cuts. We’re looking for ways to deliver services more efficiently. We are looking for ways to provide care that is ... demonstrated to be beneficial. That’s … evidence based care. So we’re trying to come at it from a number of different angles and with the result of protecting those who are most vulnerable.
This is just wrong. While "Continuing Care" encompasses 28% of the total Health & Human Services budget and covers mostly the elderly and disabled- "Basic Health Care" represents 43% of the budget- of that amount the bulk of it is dedicated to "Medical Assistance" (State-paid health-care) that covers 507,000 individuals. 70% of these individuals are able-bodied parents with children- the rest are low-income elderly and disabled. There are certainly room for cuts that don't involve "those who are most vulnerable".
These same able-bodied individuals are getting MFIP Grants (welfare), Childcare assistance and many other programs through the state in the same HHS pie.
Ruud purposely misrepresents this fact trying to paint a picture that we're "mostly talking about the elderly and disabled".
There are many, many ways where we can cut costs in the HHS budget...we now have Medica administering the MNCare program and United Health Care (a for-profit health insurer) doing the billing-adding two middle-men to the mix-- which is a cost. The state could just cut checks to all enrollees and have them purchase their own health care insurance in the private market. (being proposed by http://www.minnesotabudgetsolutions.com/ - a coalition of conservative groups in the state) and save millions of dollars that way. It would require changing the laws in the state to allow for-profit insurers to sell in the state (UHC is good enough for the state to use for billing, but not good enough for Minnesotans to buy insurance from??)
Minnesota Care also has some astonishing exceptions to what it counts as assets for enrollees: (from the Department of HHS website)
Assets that are not counted include:
• The home you live in.
• Household and personal goods such as clothing, jewelry, furniture, appliance and tools and equipment used in the home.
• Motor vehicles used for employment purposes.
• Individually owned pension and retirement funds.
• There may be other assets that your family owns that may be counted or excluded.
So you could be wearing a $10,000 diamond ring, live in a house with $100,000 of equity, drive a car worth $30,000 and have $250,000 in your Roth IRA- but you get subsidized healthcare from the state? Nuts.
Back to Ruud and her answers in the paper:
Q. In terms of the different budgets out there, which do you support?
When you look at all three of them – on one hand there's a lot of similarities, in that, I think the majority of the budget will be resolved through cuts. Even the governor proposes that there’s new revenue on the table … I am hoping that if that’s what we ultimately decide to do that we are looking for ways for it to be progressive.
Income taxes in Minnesota are already "progressive" Ruud favors a more progressive tax system in Minnesota- where the state levies increasingly punitive taxes based on success. I wonder if the likes of Ruud would consider taxing "net worth" of some of their limousine liberal friends and donors instead of income.
Q. Do you favor increasing taxes?
As far as taxes are concerned, we’re going to be looking at ways to reform the tax system. We’re hurting people no matter what we do, when we cut the programs and we cut the services that [are] disproportionately impacting our poor.
... Do I support a tax increase? I guess I’m going to have to wait and see as the process goes forward.
Ruud won't rule out a tax increase-when Minnesota now has a 8.8% unemployment rate...she believes that the welfare spending needs to be upheld. Working Minnesotans should pay for non-working Minnesotans. Tax and spend liberal.