With the Vikings’ season over and the Olympics wrapped up, many people are turning their attention to politics at our State Capitol. It is an honor to be your state senator and serve the people of District 52, which includes West St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Inver Grove Heights, South St. Paul and part of Eagan. As I enter the second year of my first term, I’m working to meet more of you and learn your ideas for our state.
As one of only two physicians in the legislature, health care is a focus of my work. I believe we can no longer deny health care to Minnesotans based on their financial circumstances. We’re better than that, and we’re strong enough to do it right. But we haven’t done the necessary work to control health care delivery costs, so the state’s efforts to expand coverage have created high costs for some Minnesotans.
In response, state lawmakers last year provided premium relief for people who buy health insurance on the individual market (about five percent of the state’s population). The legislature also passed a “reinsurance” bill, which sent your tax dollars to insurance companies in hopes of holding down premium rates. I opposed that bill and continue to believe it is a bad strategy and poor use of tax dollars. A better solution is to create a “public option,” which would allow everyone to purchase affordable coverage through MinnesotaCare – a successful state health plan currently limited to people with low incomes.
This past summer, I co-chaired a health care task force with Republican Senator Scott Jensen, who is the only other physician in the legislature. Sen. Jensen is a friend and a respected colleague, and we are working together to find ways to control costs and improve quality in health care. Our task force determined that some drug companies are driving up charges excessively. In response, we have introduced legislation to protect consumers and hold pharmaceutical manufacturers accountable.
I’m also working to resolve the opioid crisis in our state. Twenty years ago, I saw the way prescription drugs like Oxycontin were marketed to physicians as safe and non-addictive. That was wrong, and drug companies knew it was wrong. Thousands of Minnesotans became addicted to those medications, and I’ve seen many of them arrive in the emergency department where I work, sometimes too late to rescue. I’m partnering with my colleagues to make sure that drug manufacturers help cover the costs of treatment and rehabilitation.
But my top priority is to meet more of you and to get a better sense of your views and beliefs. My office is Room 2409 in the Minnesota Senate Building, located at 95 University Avenue West in Saint Paul (across the street from the Capitol). Please stop by to talk – it is your office, too. You can write me a letter or call me at 651-296-4370 to talk or make an appointment.
If you are interested in following my work at the Capitol, I provide weekly video updates on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MattKleinMN and send weekly email newsletters. To subscribe, visit my website at www.senate.mn/senatorklein. You can also email me through that website.
By the end of my first term, it is my hope to look back and be able to say that I stayed in touch and represented the views of everyone in my district with integrity. I pride myself on avoiding partisan posturing and I listen to all opinions. Please contact me anytime.