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Session 2004

Session 2004: Health Care

Health care figures to be a big issue in this year's legislative session. Rising health care costs are causing problems for state government, businesses and employees. Several lawmakers have proposed dramatically different proposals in changing the health care system. They range from allowing small businesses to enroll in MinnesotaCare, the state's subsidized health insurance program to allowing for profit HMOs to offer services in Minnesota. -- Tom Scheck

Gov. Pawlenty's health care task force, chaired by former Sen. Dave Durenberger, Friday released part of its proposal for improving health care costs in the state. The task force has held town hall meetings across the state to seek citizen input on providing quality, affordable health care. While some say the recommendations are a good first step in improving the system, some are withholding judgement until the entire report is released. (02/06/2004)
The debate over health care costs began in earnest at the Capitol on Wednesday. A couple of doctors urged a House committee to pass medical malpractice reform. Caps on malpractice awards are part of a Republican bill designed to control rising health care costs. Testimony also focused on pain inflicted by the 2003 Legislature when it raised the fees paid for services by parents of disabled children. (02/04/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty is promoting a new state Web site designed to help Minnesotans buy prescription medications from Canada. The site went live Friday afternoon, at a news conference by Gov. Pawlenty and Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno. Goodno says the site will offer savings on average of 35 percent versus prices available in the United States -- mostly because the Canadian government imposes price controls. (01/30/2004)
With health care costs and the number of uninsured people both rising, state lawmakers say health care will be a big issue in the upcoming legislative session. Senate DFLers and House Republicans are offering dramatically different proposals to lower the rising cost of health care. Meanwhile, a task force appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty is scheduled to release its ideas for reforming Minnesota's health care system by the end of the week. (01/26/2004)
Minnesotans have a strong appetite for major changes in the health care system that would both lower costs and lead to universal access to care. That's the conclusion of a state forum being led by former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger. The forum, appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and made up of 18 people representing businesses, unions, community groups and a variety of health care interests, released its findings Monday. ( 01/13/2004)
Minnesotans have a strong appetite for major changes in the health care system that would both lower costs and lead to universal access to care. That's the conclusion of a state forum being led by former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger. (01/12/2004)
Democratic lawmakers joined Attorney General Mike Hatch on Friday in pushing a trio of bills they said could trim health care costs. (01/09/2004)
Senate DFLers are the latest group at the state Capitol to propose a plan to reduce health care costs. The issue is likely to be a hot issue in the upcoming legislative session. House Republicans have proposed a dramatically different plan and a task force appointed by the governor is also working on the issue. (12/16/2003)
Several advocates for the poor say some Minnesota pharmacies are violating federal law. They say the pharmacists are refusing to provide drugs to low-income people who can't afford a new drug co-pay required by the state. Federal law says pharmacies are required to give medicine to people who say they can't afford it. (12/09/2003)
Minnesotans had grown used to seeing former Gov. Jesse Ventura in the national limelight. But they might not have expected Gov. Tim Pawlenty to draw much attention from the national press or Washington opinion leaders. (11/26/2003)
DFL lawmakers say the budget cuts made last session are creating life-threatening problems for some people enrolled in the state's subsidized insurance plan. The 2003 Legislature cut health benefits for about 20,000 low-income adults without children. Democrats say the problem is particularly acute for diabetics. They say medical supplies such as glucose testing strips are no longer covered, which will result in more expensive emergency room visits for many diabetics. (11/25/2003)
West Central Industries provides job services for disabled people and also offers employment in sheltered workshops. Given state and county budget cuts, the organization might have to scale back its offerings. (11/20/2003)
Gov. Pawlenty says he's ready to move full steam ahead with his plans to help Minnesotans buy less expensive prescription medicine from Canada. Pawlenty is back in Minnesota after spending Wednesday in Winnipeg. He met with Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and officials representing Internet and mail order pharmacies. Pawlenty also visited a company that sends prescription drugs to the United States and believes the company meets his standards for safety. (11/12/2003)

Session 2004

DocumentFinances and Taxes
DocumentHealth Care
DocumentPublic Safety
DocumentSocial Issues
DocumentSocial Services
DocumentStadium Issues

Audio Highlights

Audio Health care task force makes recommendations
Dave Durenberger, head of the Minnesota Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs ( Midday- 2/24/04)
Audio Anti-smoking initiatives
Rep. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, sponsor of a bill to ban smoking; and an opponent, Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm.