Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gutknecht offers Health Care Solutions ?

Every week Gil Gutknecht sends out an email “eline” in which he highlights actions that he is working on in behalf of the First District.

I looked forward to reading it as outlines his philosophy and intentions.

In this week’s email, the focus was on a health care forum held in Owatonna with Rep. Don Manzullo of Illinois. I am afraid that although this was “advertised” as a public forum, I have a hunch that only invited guests were allowed to participate – much like his Immigration Forum in Worthington last December, or his Renewable Fuels sessions in Blue Earth last July, or the FRA / DM&E Forum on August 25. I have a passionate interest in health care and have requested on a number of occasions that his office notify me when he will hold public meetings, but have yet to be invited.

His eline states “My concern is that my friends on the left are offering a false choice. They are saying we can either continue the status quo which is costing too much and leaving too many uninsured, or move to a government-run, single payer system. There are other alternatives that should be explored.”
The solutions as outlined by Gutknecht are :
Prescription Drug Importation
Medical Liability Reform
Medicare Part D
Health Savings Accounts

I will commend Gutknecht for recognizing that there is a problem; after all, the first step to resolving a problem, is admitting it. For a member of the Republican Party that professes itself as “party of ideas”, Gutknecht is offering proposals that are stale, non-responsive, inadequate or recycled.

Personally, I find it easy character assassination that he bemoans of “my friends on the left” and yet when I look at his first solution to the problem and who is supporting it. H.R.328 (Prescription Drug Importation) was introduced by Gutknecht on January 25, 2005 and has been sitting in committee for over a year-and-a-half. Despite 121 cosponsors, it has not been moved forward by the Republican majority. Who are some of those cosponsors? Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, John Conyers, John Murtha – all influential Democrats who some may even consider being “on the left”. Who is not a cosponsor? Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Republican Majority Leader John Boehner, and Republican Whip Roy Blunt.

And what about Mark Kennedy? At the MPR State Fair Senatorial debate, Amy Klobuhar asked him why he doesn't favor reimportation of drugs from Canada. "I would expect somebody that had an education at Yale and Chicago Law School to be able to figure that out." Kennedy, answering the question, said "we cannot set aside the safety concerns." Klobuchar responded "So you think Gov. Pawlenty is endangering the health of our state?"
{ Wow … slamming a Yale graduate … must be another attempt to separate himself from another Yale alumni … President Bush.)

If Gutknecht really believes that Prescription Drug Importation is part of the solution, he better hope for a Democratic majority in the next session.

Health care is too important of a topic for this single commentary, so during this week, I will continue to address the rest of Gutknecht’s proposals and offer my own suggestion - which believe it or not is an enhancement on one of Gutknecht's prior campaign initiatives.


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