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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Tim Pawlenty: Bailed Out By Canadians on Health Care Issues, Screwing the Working Poor

The other day, Tim Pawlenty proudly unveiled his new Health Care Initiative: Letting the Candian system bail us out. You may recall that his previous solution to the health care crisis was the same as Bush's: Medical care savings account. Have you heard of anyone setting up a medical savings account lately? Tell you what. Call your doctor tomorrow, or call any HMO and ask them if you can start a medical savings account...After they stop laughing, log on to the Minnesota RXConnect website.

What is the Minnesota RXConnect website? The Star-Tribune reports:

"The nation's first state-sponsored Web site that links Minnesotans to two Canadian pharmacies offering low-cost prescriptions is open for business, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday.

Minnesota RxConnect is the first concrete step taken by any of the more than two dozen states that are exploring the use of Canadian drugs to lower medical costs to state programs and residents. And it is a shot across the bow of federal regulators who have consistently said the action is unsafe and may be illegal."

Do you buy brave Governor Tim shooting across the bow a la Russel Crowe in Master and Commander? I don't, and here's why:

What the Star-Tribune failed to report was that Senator Mark Dayton has been hooking up seniors with Canadian pharmacies for years. Senator Dayton considered this a stopgap measure; a way to hold ground while he fights for meaningful, sustainable reform.

While Dayton and former Sen. Wellstone fought for meaningful reform, Governor Pawlenty was busy cutting healthcare for the working poor.

In 2003, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported:
"As part of their proposals to erase the state's $4.2 billion budget deficit, Pawlenty and the House Republicans have proposed sharply reducing state subsidies for health and child care for the near-poor. That would double, triple or in some cases quadruple their out-of-pocket costs for health insurance and day care".

Tim Pawlenty's actions seem to show he might not care too much about healthcare for the working poor, but he's smart enough to realize that he's on the losing side of public opinion. His own health care survey found that 80% of Minnesotans favoured a single payer healthcare plan. He'll only get away with it if we don't see through the high tech smoke and mirrors that hide his actual performance.

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