Healthcare Workers Celebrate Victory as House Votes to Approve Historic Health Insurance Exchange Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2013
Contact: Kate Brickman, SEIU Media Relations Coordinator
Phone Number: 612-460-1219

Healthcare Workers Celebrate Victory as House Votes to Approve Historic Health Insurance Exchange Bill
Bill will ensure exchange has smart purchasing power to serve the interests of more than 1.3 million Minnesotans who will benefit from affordable, quality health care

SAINT PAUL, MN – Healthcare workers across the state are celebrating a victory today after a 72-61 vote on the House floor last night to approve a bill which will provide affordable, quality health care to more than 1.3 million Minnesotans through a health insurance exchange. The exchange will allow more than 300,000 currently uninsured individuals to gain healthcare coverage.

“We are happy to see the smart purchaser language was protected during the conference committee and in last night’s vote,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “Without this ability, the exchange would merely serve the interests of insurance companies, rubber-stamping any plan regardless of quality or affordability. While it will take a year to implement, the state will eventually be able to negotiate with insurers for the best plans, those that are higher quality and more affordable.”

“Not only does this promote the best plans for Minnesotans, the smart purchaser promotes accountability to Minnesota taxpayers,” said Elsie Urman, a member of SEIU Healthcare. “We are thrilled to see this bill pass – it will reduce the number of people we see who need care, yet have no coverage. I can’t tell you how it breaks my heart to turn away sick patients simply because they lost their private insurance. This bill is a major step forward in solving this problem.”

The bill allows Minnesota to capitalize on funding opportunities from the federal government as provided by the Affordable Care Act. The bill has been through hundreds of hours of debate and faced attempt after attempt to weaken it. Healthcare workers have been waiting more than two years for legislators to act.

“By the next election in November 2014, more than a million Minnesotans will have acquired their healthcare through the Minnesota exchange,” said Rick Varco, SEIU Healthcare Political Director. “When they go to the polls, they should remember who voted to deny them that coverage.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota played an active role throughout the process as members of the Commerce Department Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Task Force.

“We thank the legislators who helped healthcare workers and Minnesotans secure this victory,” continued Gulley. “Their leadership in the face of tremendous pressure from the insurance companies and other special interests is appreciated.”

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 17,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 30,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.

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