Priorities

Healthcare

Everyone, EVERYONE deserves to have access to affordable healthcare. This is not a new topic, but it is a critical issue that affects ALL Minnesotans. Recent history shows that solutions have been proposed to make healthcare services more accessible and affordable for all and without much success. A Harvard University study showed that medical expenses accounted for over 65 percent of personal bankruptcies in the US. Interestingly, the study also showed that 72 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy due to medical expenses had some type of health insurance, thus debunking the myth that only the uninsured face financial catastrophes due to medical-related expenses. As the richest country in the world this should never happen – it is immoral and inhumane to ignore this very damaging state of affairs.

More recently, a move to allow more people to buy in to Minnesota Care received approval in the legislature (sort of a “public option” for health insurance). If it’s signed into law it will represent an incremental step in the right direction. The confusion still exists among the general public when it comes to healthcare, specifically that having health insurance is the same as having healthcare…it is not.  Healthcare is the delivery of direct health services to people by health providers, whereas health insurance is merely the mechanism for paying the aforementioned healthcare service providers. It’s important to define that difference.  In summary, the current system is the most cumbersome, inefficient, and certainly the most costly way to provide healthcare to people. Our health care costs are rising at an unsustainable rate and Minnesotans continue to lose ground and access to healthcare services. For the good of all people of Minnesota (and the U.S.) it needs to be changed.

Healthcare should be a right, not a privilegeeveryone should have affordable healthcare!

Senior Issues

Senior’s lifestyles and their way of life deserve to be protected from those who don’t consider them of vital importance. Healthcare, housing, and transportation are the three top issues that have been affecting the lives of seniors for multiple decades. The topic of healthcare should be safe territory, but recent actions and conversations coming out of Washington, DC in the past twelve months have seniors worried nationwide, and rightly so. Turning the current and very reliable Medicare system into something disparagingly referred to as Voucher-care would be disastrous for seniors everywhere…it’s also been called “Premium Support” by those who would soft pedal the likely damage caused by making the system wide change in how healthcare is delivered and paid for.

Likewise, housing has become increasingly important to seniors as the trend is to move away from the familiar Nursing Home system to one of Assisted Living facilities. These systems hold great potential, but there are many hurdles to overcome including cost (affordability) and low staffing levels at many existing facilities. Work needs to be done to help support these facilities reach their potential in delivering quality healthcare and lifestyles.

Finally, transportation for seniors for day to day travels, in addition to extended distance trips for specialized services, still needs ongoing support in order to meet the needs of a growing cast of seniors now that Baby Boomers (and subsequent aging generations) have come of age as seniors.

Transportation

From the Northwest Angle to the bluffs near Lake Pepin, and From Gooseberry Falls to the sights at Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota is a beautiful state with many thousands of acres of pristine and beautiful wilderness for people to enjoy year round. To get to these remote places it also has thousands of miles of roads, many that are in dire need of repair – the state also has thousands of bridges that are aged-out and dangerous to use, with over 700 bridges termed “structurally deficient” and in need of immediate repair or replacement (2017 report from American Road & Transportation Builders Association). Major transportation challenges are facing all Minnesotans.

The state has been playing a game of catch up, especially in rural Minnesota, and continues to fall behind in road and bridge investments in order to fund critical maintenance and replacement projects. Minnesota has yet to adequately address emerging transportation issues and concerns posed by the needs of our residents, as well as forecasts of population growth, and perhaps most importantly, the overall environmental impacts of the current system. Transportation priorities need to be reassessed and realigned. For safety, as well as economic reasons, we cannot allow ourselves to fall further behind.

Renewable Energy


Some communities in Minnesota have taken the lead in promoting renewable energy sources – they should be used as models for all of us around the state. The state should consider expanding incentives to encourage companies and industries to create, and bring online, more forms of renewable energy generating systems. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for the economy, and…best of all, it’s good for the citizens of Minnesota. Win, Win, Win!

Affordable Housing

Recent Housing studies in the East Central Region of Minnesota have shown some significant shortages in workforce and affordable senior housing. To that end, I have been participating in two ongoing housing education trainings since 2014. These training sessions have taught all of the members of my east central Minnesota cohort about many of the nuances of housing in the region, as well as the state. Our first group (ECHO) helped get a senior housing building project off the ground in Mora and also created and brought a regional housing website online. The website has proven to be a great resource for people looking to explore the housing market in the entire east central Minnesota region and beyond.

Education

Today’s students have much more flexibility/mobility in selecting their school, than students of just thirty (30) years ago, in where they choose to attend school, thanks to the School Open Enrollment law. This enrollment flexibility offers many positive options for students that didn’t even exist a relatively short time ago. At the same time it has created a real challenge to all local school boards in planning/budgeting for an ever-changing number of students. It would be good to find more effective ways to better minimize the yearly shock of losing numbers of student that in turn affects the per pupil revenue dollars allotted for each school district… it will be a real challenge, but an important one to address.