Minnesota’s version of the Affordable Care Act is called MNSure. Like all such implementations of the federal law, it has been a disaster. Last week, Minnesota’s left-wing governor, Mark Dayton, created a firestorm when he accidentally blurted out the truth: “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.”
Dayton has been furiously backpedaling away from that comment ever since, but local Democrats are so worried about MNSure’s unpopularity that they are calling for a special session prior to the election to try to fix the problems with the statute.
Bad as the situation is, most Minnesotans don’t know about one of the unintended effects of Obamacare: it is driving up property taxes all across the state. MNSure is supposed to allow individuals to enroll in the program online. But the system doesn’t work; it never has, and those who work with it daily say it never will. As a result, counties have been forced to hire more staff to do manually what MNSure was supposed to accomplish on the internet.
Tom Steward, my colleague at Center of the American Experiment, has the scoop:
By now most Minnesotans realize the Affordable Care Act has drastically increased the cost of healthcare coverage for many, while at the same time decreasing coverage choices.
What’s not widely known is that taxpayers are also being gouged for millions of dollars a year on their property tax bills because of ongoing problems with MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange.
This hidden cost is borne by counties to compensate for the inefficiencies and software failures of MNsure’s dysfunctional IT system.
“This has been a huge unfunded mandate on the counties. Once again, we’re cleaning up the state’s mess,” Dakota County Commissioner Mary Liz Holberg told Center of the American Experiment.
The Minnesota Association of Counties estimates taxpayers spend an additional $27 million annually to work around the flawed online METS technology. This year alone some 249 extra eligibility workers were added to county government payrolls statewide.
The number of new government employees added to county payrolls has varied widely, ranging from 54 new employees in Hennepin County to two new workers in Pennington County in Northwestern Minnesota. Consequently, county levies are rising across the state.
Has there ever been a comprehensive failure to match Obamacare? It has driven up the cost of health care, made it illegal for people to buy cheaper coverage with fewer mandates, eaten up many billions of federal tax dollars, wasted uncounted billions in state income and sales taxes. And now it is driving up property taxes because the program’s failures have to be dealt with by counties.
In a normal election cycle, the disaster that is the Affordable Care Act would have been a campaign issue.