Governor Flip-Flop

Governor Flip-Flop

Governor Mark Dayton is headed into a critical re-election year with damaging ties to the widely unpopular policies of Barack Obama’s second term. No state has doubled down on implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) more than Minnesota. After passage of the federal law in 2010, then-candidate Dayton became a strong supporter of building a state-based Obamacare operation through a state health insurance exchange. Last spring, this new super-agency was passed into law with only DFL support; with Dayton’s signature, it came to life.

The exchange is an online hub for choosing government and private coverage plans, supported by navigators and bureaucrats in St. Paul. The boondoggle will cost taxpayers over $150 million to get off the ground. Its launch has been riddled with problems, including a dysfunctional relationship between the government exchange and private health plans. Over the next two years, taxpayers could be on the hook for over $300 million in costs just to keep this health exchange up and running. In the first two months, hardly 2000 people have enrolled in private plans through the exchange. Democratic leaders have set a goal of covering 1.3 million Minnesotans. The exchange is far short of this goal. Moreover, for every one person enrolled in new coverage on the exchange, 140 people have lost the health plans they had before. Healthy and young people have to enroll to distribute wealth around the new risk pools created by Obamacare. This is the only way the exchange can be sustained.

You may remember the painfully awkward press conference Obama held on Nov. 14 announcing he was single-handedly changing the law to allow people to keep their health plans if they chose to. Dayton saw this announcement as a political opportunity to reassure the disappointed public and promised, “They should be able to keep their plans in Minnesota, too.”

As fast as the political storm descended on the White House and its allies in rolling out this exemption, Dayton had a change of heart on some major pieces of the law. Call it a flip-flop, reversal, turnabout, convenient shift, interchange, or just a switch. Dayton went from supporting the president’s stance of allowing Americans to keep their current health plans to opposing the idea in a week’s time.

Since October 1, millions of Americans and thousands of Minnesotans have been notified that their current health insurance plan will either disappear or be changed starting in 2014. The news triggered outrage from across the political spectrum, directed at Obama and Dayton. But this “fix” came way too late for most insurance companies to comply fully, and Dayton was forced to inform the public that Minnesotans would not qualify for this new exemption. In preparation for the full rollout of Obamacare, health insurance providers have been busy changing and dropping plans, giving thousands of people new plans that cost more for coverage they don’t want or need. Young and healthy 25-year-old males, for example, are paying more to cover birth control, pregnancy coverage, and pre-existing conditions.

Dayton will be hurt by his full-throated endorsement of Obamacare and the implementation of an expensive government takeover here in Minnesota. His eventual opponent to continue should capitalize on the issue.