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Skip Humphrey: Health Care
By Laura McCallum
August 20, 1998
Click for audio RealAudio 2.0 14.4
Part of Election '98

SKIP HUMPHREY SAYS HIS TOP HEALTH CARE priority is expanding MinnesotaCare to all children. He says 80,000 Minnesota children are uninsured and should be enrolled in the state's subsidized medical insurance program. His other priority is ensuring choice for consumers.

Humphrey: That's where we're gonna create a new marketplace in which you don't just have one option. You don't just have your employer's HMO - but you may very well - and your employer would participate and join together in an open marketplace that would allow other options that you could choose from.
Humphrey says creating such a marketplace will cost $250,000, and expanding MinnesotaCare to uninsured children will cost $80 million. His budget plan includes a total of $120 million in new health care initiatives for kids, seniors and the working poor, and Humphrey says the money to pay for them comes, in part, from the settlement of the state's tobacco lawsuit, which he spearheaded as attorney general. He's already been lobbying lawmakers to make sure a chunk of the settlement goes to anti-smoking programs.
Humphrey: This is not a partisan issue. This is the greatest opportunity that this state has ever had to give - literally, to give the gift of life - longer, healthier life to that first generation of children in the twenty-first century. That's what that lawsuit was all about.
Humphrey often calls the push to fund anti-smoking efforts the "second mountain" the state has to climb, following its legal battle with tobacco companies. He's in the process of establishing a non-profit organization called the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco, and thinks about 11 percent of the settlement money should be dedicated to smoking cessation and prevention. That still leaves the bulk of the $6.1 billion settlement for other spending priorities, which to Humphrey include education, crime prevention, and tax cuts.
Humphrey: What this means is the vast majority of the settlement money is going to be in the hands of a legislature and a governor, and that means that the people of Minnesota - the voters of Minnesota - must be attentive to what is being recommended with its use. I think if we wisely and prudently use those dollars, we can ensure that we will see a much better life for citizens all the way around.
Humphrey says Minnesota has one of the best health-care systems in the country, and he opposes any effort to change that by allowing for-profit HMOs. He hasn't attacked HMOs like many of his opponents, but does advocate full funding for a consumer advocacy office established by the legislature.

Humphrey says he would not support any legislation that restricts legalized abortion, but will continue to work on efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies. He says he's the only candidate who's worked with both sides of the abortion issue to create a program called ENABL - Education Now and Babies Later.