We had, what might be, our final Industry, Business and Labor Interim Committee meeting this past week, at which time we finalized a report on what the federal health insurance law is going to do to North Dakota. We had been working on this for over a year, and we had monthly meetings with every government and private agency that might be affected.
Our determination was that over the next 10 years, it is going to cost North Dakota $1.1 billion (Insurance Department, Human Services — Medicaid, Health Department, Public Employees Retirement System, Blue Cross/Shield, Political Subdivisions), and remember, the state takes into our general fund, by taxes, about $1.3 billion a year.
We also determined that approximately 15,000 citizens are without insurance due to pre-existing conditions, lifetime maximums, etc. North Dakota is a state with 645,000 people which provides health care to all children through the State Children's Health Insurance Program and federal law requires hospitals to serve all people.
Then on Wednesday, Aug. 4, a spokesperson for Sen. Kent Conrad said that the federal government will pick up the entire tab (except for $32 million). First of all, governments don’t pick up tabs, taxpayers do, and furthermore, the federal government is practically broke.
Second, the federal government basically refused to participate in these hearings. Maybe since Conrad has some inside information, he should come back and share it with our committee and the people of the state of North Dakota.
Rep. Mike Schatz, District 36, New England