SEIU MN State Council
Media Relations Coordinator
Saint Paul, Minn. – As the new health insurance exchange MNSure releases its rates today, members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota are ecstatic to see that MNSure will have some of the lowest rates in the country. The cost for plans sold on the exchange are coming in much lower than originally projected, which mirrors national trends as reported in several studies, most recently the Kaiser Family Foundation, which show exchange premiums throughout the country coming in lower than forecasted.
“This means individuals will be able to purchase more healthcare coverage and keep more money in their pockets,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “SEIU worked closely with Governor Dayton and the DFL legislative majorities to enact a consumer-friendly exchange that brings better healthcare coverage to 1.3 million Minnesotans. Today’s numbers showing that Minnesota will have the lowest average rates in the country show we delivered on the promise of more affordable, quality healthcare coverage for more Minnesotans.”
The MNSure exchange will allow Minnesotans to easily compare health plans side-by-side and empower them to select the plan that best fits their needs and budget. An estimated 300,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans are expected to use MNSure to access affordable, quality insurance. The exchange is a central component of the Affordable Care Act.
“These people are those who previously would run the risk of being turned away at hospitals and clinics,” said Yankuba Fadera, an Emergency Department Tech at St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “Working in an emergency room, I see what happens when Minnesotans are forced to rely on emergency care, rather than being able to visit a doctor for preventative care or regular check-ups. That results in a lower quality of care and more cost to taxpayers. These rates will provide thousands of Minnesotans with the peace of mind knowing that every plan offered through MNSure will cover a comprehensive set of benefits like emergency room visits, prescriptions, mental health, and preventive care like cancer screenings and immunizations – and all at affordable rates.”
“For four years, the GOP has done nothing on healthcare reform except predict catastrophe from the Affordable Care Act,” continued Gulley. “These premiums, which are much, much lower than predicted, mean the sky is not falling. Instead, the Affordable Care Act is working, and voters will know that in 2014. I’m proud of the active role our members at SEIU played in this process and look forward to the continued work they will do to care for Minnesotans at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 15,000 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.
Nearly 100 healthcare workers from across the metro walked the picket line August 15 at the Aspen Medical Group Maplewood Clinic as part of an informational picket against contract demands being made by Allina Health. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members who work at nine Aspen Clinics have been in contract negotiations with their corporate parent, Allina Health, for months. Two weeks ago, Allina proposed to eliminate every union benefit they have fought for and won over the last decade.
“This is the fight of our lives,” said Amy Root, a member of the bargaining committee. “As healthcare workers, we care deeply about the health and quality of life for those we care for. But if we aren’t ensured basic protections ourselves, how will we attract and retain the best workers out there? We are the frontline workers in these clinics – we need to be treated fairly so we can make certain that our patients are getting the very best care possible.”
The major sticking point for workers is Allina’s demand to base health insurance benefits on biometric screening results like BMI, many of which discriminate based on genetic factors outside a person’s control. Just a year ago, workers voted on whether they wanted to participate in the program and rejected it with 99 percent of the vote.
Allina has also demanded the right to eliminate life insurance and long-term disability insurance, eliminate overtime based on the 8-hour workday, and eliminate all shift differentials: a complete gutting of earned benefits and the right to collectively bargain over them.
Aspen Clinics are owned by Allina Health and are in the process of being re-branded as Allina Health Clinics along with Allina Medical Clinics and Quello clinics, both of which are non-union. Workers say the proposed contract is an effort by Allina Health to rid workers of their right to collectively bargain over changes to benefits and working conditions.
“Under the guise of ‘standardization’ Allina Health is attempting to gut almost every benefit in the Aspen contract and to lower their standards to those of non-contract employees. But together, healthcare members will stand up for a fair contract so we can continue providing the best quality of care possible for our friends, family and community members,” continued Root.
The contract covers around 350 members, who work in the nine clinics as LPNs, radiology technologists, medical assistants, lab technicians, phlebotomists and patient registration receptions. They will return to the bargaining table Monday.
St. Paul, MN – On Friday, Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill which grants a historic expansion of collective bargaining rights for Minnesota workers. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – As the dust settles on the 2013 legislative session, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) say it will go down in history as one of the most successful legislative sessions, providing a balanced approach to making key investments in our middle class, while expanding the rights of collective bargaining for workers. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – More than 50 hours after first arriving at the Capitol Saturday afternoon, Sumer Spika joined a tired, but elated group of home care workers and recipients in celebration. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – After 11 committees and a record-setting 17-hour debate on the Senate floor, home care workers are celebrating a win after the Senate voted 35 – 32 to pass a bill that would extend collective bargaining rights to workers in self-directed public home care programs. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – Nikki Villavicencio-Tollison is not new to the political process. As a leader among disability advocates, she has spent years working to improve services for the disability community. This year, among her many priorities, is a bill that would grant collective bargaining rights to personal care attendants (PCAs) and other home care workers in self-directed programs. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – After months of walking the halls, talking with legislators and attending hearings at the State Capitol, home care worker Darleen Henry is overjoyed that a bill that would give her the right to vote on whether she wants to form a union is finally headed to the floor for final votes in both the House and the Senate. (more…)
SAINT PAUL, MN – After a record-breaking debate in the Minnesota legislature, healthcare workers across the state are celebrating a milestone today in their effort to provide quality care to Minnesotans. Governor Dayton signed the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange into law today, which will bring better healthcare coverage to 1.3 million Minnesotans, while saving Minnesotans more than $1 billion. In response to today’s signing, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley issued the following statement: (more…)
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.”
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.
SEIU MN State Council
Media Relations Coordinator