A political group called Compete! Minnesota released its first ad this week in support of potential Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour.
The ad has a lot of nice things to say about Honour’s personality and business background. Compete! Minnesota has personal ties to Honour.
But the part that stuck out to PoliGraph was this statement about Honour’s stance on the state’s health insurance exchange, MNsure, as it compares to what the other GOP gubernatorial hopefuls are saying.
“Only Honour wants to scrap the whole program,” the ad states, quoting a blog post from Politics.mn, a website run by former Senate aide Michael Brodkorb.
Honour is hardly alone among Republican candidates for governor in wanting to get rid of MNsure.
MNsure has had a tumultuous rollout. But even before the site went live in October of last year, Republicans hoping to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton in the general election were cautious about how they talked about the program.
On one hand, they didn’t want to seem too closely aligned with the insurance website because it’s a centerpiece of the Obama-backed Affordable Care Act.
On the other hand, if they pledged to get rid of MNsure, the state would have to participate in the federal health insurance exchange, a prospect that some Republicans may say is contrary to the GOP value of small government.
Here’s where each of the candidates come down on the issue:
Honour: In February, he told the Associated Press that he would not bother fixing MNsure. “We can move over to the federal exchange. It’s there, it works — not as well as I would want but that’s their problem. It certainly works better than MNsure, and it’s available to us.”
Rep. Kurt Zellers: In the same Associated Press article, Zellers said he would advocate for the repeal of MNsure, but that he wouldn’t push people into the federal exchange.
Sen. Dave Thompson: During a May 2 virtual town hall on Facebook, Thompson wrote that “we need to eliminate MNsure.” But in a previous news report, Thompson’s running mate Sen. Michelle Benson said that Thompson would restructure the MNsure board and make MNsure easier to use.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson: On his website, Johnson writes that “MNSure, Governor Dayton’s version of Obamacare, is a disaster and should be repealed.” He goes on to say, “I will work to eliminate MNsure and move toward a market-based healthcare system in Minnesota where consumers have more options and government is not making decisions for patients and doctors.”
Marty Seifert: Given the only other choice for the state would be to participate in the federal exchange, Seifert said he would keep MNsure, but make some dramatic changes to how its board is set up and how the agency’s budget is allocated. For instance, he’d like to see less money spent on advertising.
In lieu of MNsure, several of the candidates, including Zellers, have said they would like to allow more insurance companies to sell in Minnesota with the hope that competition would drive down prices rather than push people who need inexpensive insurance into the federal exchange.
But axing MNsure in favor of a broader insurance market is easier said than done. Unless Minnesota got a special waiver from the federal government, it would have to participate in the federal exchange if MNsure is repealed.
Honour isn’t the only GOP gubernatorial hopeful that wants to scrap MNsure.
In fact, it appears the biggest difference between him and most of the candidates is that he would opt to move candidates into the federal exchange over fixing MNsure. To be fair, that would be the state’s only option unless it got special permission from the federal government not to participate in an exchange at all.
The ad touting his campaign gets this one wrong.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.