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Dayton keeps pushing health plan opposed by GOP

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Butterfield area farmer Brian Romsdahl and his wife Therese spoke in support of Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal for a MinnesotaCare buy-in option. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is making a last-ditch push for a health care proposal that Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have repeatedly snubbed.

With less than two weeks remaining in the 2018 session, Dayton called on lawmakers again Tuesday to pass a MinnesotaCare buy-in option. He wants the subsidized program available to anyone in need of affordable health coverage.

Dayton said during a news conference that Republican opposition to the plan will impose additional financial hardship on thousands of people.

“They scream and shout and say ‘health care is unaffordable because of the Affordable Care Act.’ Well, that may be one factor, but here’s a chance to do something about it,” Dayton said. “Here’s a chance to make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans.”

Dayton was joined by others who support the plan.

Brian Romsdahl, a farmer from Butterfield, said he and his wife are paying $33,000 a year on premiums and deductibles. He said the financial burden is crushing him.

“I don’t know, with the declining crop prices, how much longer a lot of farm families like us can hang in there,” Romsdahl said.

Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said the governor’s plan isn’t going anywhere this session.

Dean, the chair of the House health and human services finance committee, said the proposal would underfund small rural hospitals and force many to close.

“It would be extremely bad policy for moving forward,” Dean said.