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Column: MNsure report ignores key facts

PRESTON — Recently, Gov. Mark Dayton and Democrats in control of the state legislature touted a preliminary report from the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) that purports to show a significant drop in the number of Minnesotans without health insurance.

It’s unfortunate that the governor has chosen to politicize a respected arm of the University of Minnesota because, like so many of the governor’s predictions, the report is a bust on further review.

The reality is the SHADAC report is pure guesswork. We know a lot more people have signed up for public insurance programs than previously expected, and we know that far fewer people signed up for private insurance than Gov. Dayton’s administration previously projected.

The most important thing you can know about MNsure — Gov. Dayton’s version of Obamacare — is that they have no idea how many of the people who used their website to purchase health insurance previously did not have coverage. The main purpose of Obamacare was to increase the number of Americans with health insurance; MNsure kept no data to verify that it was accomplishing that goal.

You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that Gov. Dayton’s claim is deeply flawed. The report claims that 180,520 more people have insurance now than did in September 2013. The largest portion of the increase comes from those on public insurance programs: 155,515 more people are now enrolled in a state public program than last year.

According to the report, private insurance enrollment increased by 29,943. This is where the governor’s math stops working. In order to claim that increase, the report counts every single person who signed up through MNsure as having insurance for the first time. We know this is false.

I have spoken with countless Minnesotans and their insurance brokers who have been forced to find new insurance as a result of Obamacare. The same is true for those who signed up for private insurance outside of the exchange — SHADAC has no idea if they had insurance before.

Nationally, independent consultants have found that 75 percent of people purchasing new insurance plans in 2014 already had coverage. If the same holds true in Minnesota, then less than 11,000 people purchased insurance for the first time through the MNsure website. The same goes for people who bought insurance through a non-MNsure agent or directly from an insurer. This means any growth in private insurance reported by SHADAC is likely fiction.

Dayton fails to mention that the report shows that 39,941 people lost employer-based coverage or their companies transitioned to a different type of insurance. Also missing is that fewer than 800 small business employees signed up for insurance through MNsure ­— a far cry from the 39,375 that his administration estimated would sign up in 2014.

MNsure and Dayton’s Obamacare enrollment numbers are as bad as his projections for Vikings Stadium revenue from e-pulltabs. According to the SHADAC report, just 16 percent of those projected to sign up for MNsure in 2014 actually purchased coverage.

Worse, your insurance premiums are dramatically rising as a result of Obamacare in Minnesota. Unfortunately, because of inaction by legislative Democrats, you won’t be able to see how much you’ll pay for insurance or the full details of the policies until Nov. 15 — conveniently, a week after the election.

However, insurance rates in Minnesota have gone up 49 percent in the last year, according to a comprehensive report from Forbes. Where I’m from in Fillmore County, it is reported that premiums increased between 191 percent and 200 percent across age all ranges due to Obamacare. More increases are coming.

So what have we seen with our $160 million MNsure investment? A malfunctioning website that struggles to handle modest demand; a data breach that put the social security numbers of Minnesotans at risk; and a program that not only has drastically underperformed, but also cannot report how many previously uninsured Minnesotans now have health care coverage because it has chosen not to tabulate those statistics.

State Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, is the Republican lead on the Minnesota House Taxes Committee.