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Aug 17, 2009


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Below is email to Mr. Walz in advance of attending the town hall on Thursday:

Good Morning Mr. Walz,

I will accept your invitation to the Town Hall meeting in Mankato.

I like you am a veteran (4 years in the USMC) and public servant (4 years Waseca City Council) and am deeply concerned about the health care situation in our nation. We, as a nation, have faced too many perils, braved too many storms and stood as a beacon to the rest of the world for far too long to not face and solve this problem.

A little more about me and my family – earlier this year my wife Stacy and my two children adopted and welcomed three boys from Texas. I cannot explain the happiness that this has brought to our family. They were the children of illegal immigrants, the father (or fathers – the record is not clear) was involved in criminal activity and has returned to Mexico. Their mother had a kidney disease, Alports Syndrome, and passed away at age 21. She was in need of medical care but her husband would not let her seek care for fear of deportation. Alports Syndrome is a genetic disease and my three new children have shown strong indicators. The oldest one, Edgardo, wears hearing aids as hearing loss is often a result of kidney disorders. All three boys met with a nephrologist at Mayo last week and the news was not wonderful. It is likely that all three will experience renal failure, most likely between the ages of 15 and 30. With that they face lifelong dialysis or will need a kidney transplant.

My wife and I are both employed at wonderful companies that offer great insurance plans. Stacy is a nurse in the emergency room at Immanuel St. Josephs in Mankato and I work at Brown Printing Company in Waseca. Additionally as part of the adoption agreement between the state of Texas and Minnesota the three boys are enrolled in MinnesotaCare. As you can imagine with all of the other concerns we have the thought of what will happen to our children once they are adults and not covered by our insurance or MinnesotaCare is big cloud looming on the horizon. They know first hand that medical care is critical.

Given that background my thoughts on health care reform are this – the more we can reduce complications in the system the better. Hospitals, the AMA, insurance companies and Medicare have created a twisted framework where each party exploits the rules to their favor and with each turn the consumer loses. Health care reform cannot simply add another player to this and compound the problem. The approach needs to be untwisting the framework – encourage a second licensing body for doctors that will promote competition through better practice. Strengthen HSA’s and high deductible plans that encourage us all to take health into our own hands and consider the costs. I understand that those struggling financially will still need help provide them with that help through vouchers into private insurance plans.

David Goodhill wrote a wonderful article for the September issue of the Atlantic that very much expresses my fears of the current (and imagined system under the current HR3200) and provides a very clear path to reforming health care in a way that is right for our United States. I encourage you to read it and champion these reforms in Congress.


Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to assist as you work for Minnesotans and our nation on health care reform. I can make phone calls, write letters, and talk to my neighbors, I cannot however support further government intervention in health care. I owe that to my children.

I can be reached at anytime at 507-xxx-xxxx.

Thank you very much for your service and your time.

Best Regards,

Matt Johansen

* A note on MinnesotaCare – to date is has performed very well for us. However, my eight year old niece Myah needed dental care, rather than being seen by a dentist in Waseca she had to travel to Shakopee - the nearest dentist that was willing to provide services under the MinnesotaCare system. She needed a cap on her teeth, the only cap authorized by MinnesotaCare was metal cap. She still has a beautiful smile, as all eight year old girls do, but it is still hard to accept that the distance traveled and the level of care provided as a model for reforming health care.

Sally Jo Sorensen

Thank you for sharing your thoughtful letter that's grounded in your family's experience.

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    Sorensen, editor and proprietor of Bluestem Prairie, serves clients in the business and nonprofit sectors. While progressive in outlook, she does not caucus with any political party.


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