‘Patients First’: Senate Republicans innovate to reduce health care costs

Senate Republicans unveiled a number of innovative ideas aimed at reducing health care costs today, promising to cut through red tape to give consumers better choices and more say in their own care. The proposals will also give consumers alternatives to expensive health insurance plans, cut out middlemen, and eliminate anti-competitive practices that have led to higher health care and prescription drug costs for consumers.

“We’re not tinkering around the edges,” said Senator Scott Jensen, M.D. (R-Chaska). “These are bold, innovative ideas that will dismantle some of the biggest cost drivers in our health care system.”

Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) added, “Republicans are breaking down the barriers of our convoluted health care system to give consumers the flexibility and choice they deserve.”

The proposals include:

  • Direct Primary Care: A flexible new way for doctors and patients to work together without the insurance middleman. Direct Primary Care often includes unlimited office visits, faster scheduling, more time spent with your doctor, and low, flat rates.
  • ‘Right to Shop’: Gives patients the right to shop around for the best value for their health care dollar, even if the doctor or clinic is out of network.
  • Pre-existing conditions coverage: Eliminates any doubt that Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions are protected.
  • Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) reform: Provides transparency and accountability for PBMs, which are middlemen many consumers don’t even realize exist between them, their doctor, and their pharmacy. Reforms include: Licensure of PBMs, disclosure of conflicts of interest, and a requirement to expand pharmacy networks so patients have access to local pharmacies no matter where they live in the state.

“As a former nurse, I’ve witnessed first-hand how important the doctor-patient relationship is to patients’ overall health and healing process,” said Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake). “Our Direct Primary Care legislation was designed to nurture that relationship and eliminate anything standing between a patient and their trusted family doctor.”

Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) added, “Imagine how much competition there would be if patients could shop around for health care services and keep the money they saved. Costs would go way down.”

“People need to be confident their pre-existing conditions will be covered, and we are fully committed to that,” said Senator Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).