Health care and the smoker pawn

An enrollee of the health-care monopoly now must sacrifice his or her own identity.

As a smokers’ rights advocate for 15 years I have “watched” the Minnesota Health Care Commission from its inception. On that commission was an appointee from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 6 president Peter Benner, who witnessed today’s health care’s birth. The rest of the appointed commission members came from the nonprofit health-care industry: Allina, Health Partners and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which collectively provide 85 percent of Minnesota’s health care.

Over the past 12 years, subscribers have seen a 200 percent increase in health-care costs. Ten percent to 20 percent per biennium has seen the raises that should have gone to AFSCME workers taken by the big three nonprofit providers with rate increases. As Attorney General Mike Hatch has shown, a huge appetite for caviar and champagne exists in these health-care “administrations.” 

Most citizens and legislators have no idea about the actions taken by the 1992 Legislature and the Gang of Seven who created the idea of this travesty of our health care. Linda Berglin, Lee Greenfield, Duane Benson, John Hottinger and a few other legislators wrote into state statutes in 1992 “powers granted to the commissioner of health” state statute 62 J UN presented authority to issue blanket antitrust exemptions to every member of the MHCC. The nonprofit monopoly soon purchased almost every private health-care provider in the state. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota paid a $3 million fine for fraudulently overcharging co-pays, then pocketing the overcharge.

Crime pays in Minnesota as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota was granted the workmen’s compensation contract for state workers. I asked the district attorney’s office why they issued a contract to a felonious organization like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, I was told that they would “keep an eye on them.” An enrollee of the health-care monopoly now must remain motionless and follow the personal health habits insisted on by the providers. For you smokers, we at the monopoly are totally in love with your sin of smoking but find smokers “detestable.”

Archie Anderson is the Minnesota chapter president of Fighting Ordinances and Restrictions to Control and Eliminate Smoking. Please send comments to [email protected]