Minnesota COACT

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 Newsletters:  Fall 2015   Summer 2015   Spring 2015   Winter 2015   Summer 2014   Spring 2014   Winter 2014 

COACT’s all-seasons organizing for social justice.


COACT and HCAMn members rally in January for the Minnesota

Health Plan with chief author Senator John Marty at a Martin Luther

King Day Parade in St. Paul.


COACT and HCAMn members at a June rally for the Minnesota Health

Plan at a St. Paul premier of SiCKO, the acclaimed documentary on

the nation’s failed health insurance system.


FALL 2015

35th COACT Farm Picnic celebrates family farms and small businesses as pillars of our economy

Small Business Minnesota confirms COACT’s stand for health care reform

At the 35th Farm Picnic on August 16 in Pierz, Audrey Britton, chair of Small Business Minnesota,told the audience of 105 guests what COACT has been hearing for years from Central Minnesota business owners on main street: paying HMOs for medical care is not cost effective, public accountability is needed for tax dollars going to HMO contractors, and high deductible policies are unaffordable.  Business owners are cost-efficient managers, so they expect the same from the HMOs, she said.

 Small businesses and farms are not represented by the large corporations

Thom Petersen, Minnesota Farmers Union government relations director, and SBM’s Audrey Britton represented the family farm and small business pillars of our economy for cost-efficient, affordable, and publicly accountable health care delivery for all Minnesotans.

Rather than working with small businesses and family farms for affordable, universal health care, their voice has been hijacked by the National Federation of Businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S health insurance industry (the world’s most profitable), which lobby for Wall Street, not Main Street.

St. Cloud Times

It's time for universal health care

By Jeff Kunstleben and Don Pylkkanen, Minnesota COACT4:01 p.m. CDT October 31, 2015

Small Business Minnesota and Minnesota Farmers Union confirmed what COACT had been hearing from business owners and family farmers for years: Unaffordable medical coverage is their No. 1 problem.

·         Small businesses and farms had already been paying $10,000 and more annually for deductible policies

·         Look to the cost-efficient and universally affordable systems of other industrialized countries



Feedlot industry retaliates against Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board for its environmental review of mega-dairy


COACT opposes legislation to silence citizens’ decision-making voice of 48 years


   Following the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Citizens Board ordering an environmental review for the largest corporate dairy expansion in state history, the feedlot industry and their legislative allies retaliated with legislation this session to first silence the Board and then eliminate it.

   The industry’s retaliation was triggered in August 2014 by the Citizens Board’s ordering a rigorous Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to permitting expansion of the state’s largest dairy corporation, Riverview LLP, in Stevens County, western Minnesota. 

   During its 48 years the Board has rarely ordered an EIS, but in this case the need was overwhelming.

COACT Vice President (far right) and other members rally with

Senator John Marty (center) at the MPCA June 23 to save the

Citizens Board.

Testimony from citizens and COACT convinced the Board to require the EIS in order to see how Riverview’s proposed 9200-cow expansion, largest so far, could potentially damage the area’s environment and economy.  Riverview already owns six operations averaging 4,000 cows each, with the largest over 6,000, for a total of 27,000 cows concentrated in one area.

Adding 9,200 more would produce manure waste beyond the tolerance of the county’s water supply and acreage. Air and water pollution would risk public health, according to COACT’s testimony. Furthermore, COACT asked if the public will be responsible for the ensuing pollution costs of expansion, since Riverview is a Limited Liability Partnership.

COACT commends MPCA Citizens Board after fighting against the legislation that silenced it

Urges Governor to work for the Board’s restoration in 2017

The Citizens Board of the Minnesota Control Agency (MPCA) may be down, but not out.  Although legislation by big ag, big mining, and their legislative allies may have knocked it down, it can come back, according to COACT testimony at the Board’s final hearing at MPCA June 23.

At the hearing, former Governor Wendell Anderson thanks COACT

farm leader Stephanie Henriksen for fighting for the Citizens Board,

which Governor Mark Dayton promised after the contentious

Special Session to work to restore in the 2017 legislative session.



Following a rally at the Governor’s Mansion May 21, Gov. Dayton

vetoed elimination of the Citizens Board on May 23.  He then used

his executive power to make it an advisory committee to the MPCA

Commissioner until its EIS authority can be re-legislated in the 2017


Legislation disregards Senator Gordon Rosenmeier's environmental legacy

By Sister Ruth Lentner, COACT, and Beth Passi, Brainerd Lakes League of Women Voters, on Apr 27, 2015 




First step to federal waiver for MN Health Plan

Marty-Laine legislative plan will give us “state’s right” to single payer

The first step was taken this session for Minnesota to get the federal waiver, under Obamacare, which will allow the state to enact the single-payer Minnesota Health Plan (MHP).

   For any proposal to be considered for the waiver, Senator John Marty and Representative Carolyn Laine, chief authors of the MHP, introduced legislation in the 2015 session setting the principles that all state health program proposals must meet. They include affordability for all, cost savings, provider choice, comprehensive care, and public accountability.  This is step 1 in their overall legislative plan for Minnesota to get the waiver in 2017 for which COACT is working to get public support.

Representative John Lesch (center), confers with COACT Vice President Charlie Quick (left) and Executive Director Don Pylkkanen January 13 on the Marty-Laine waiver legislative plan following the December 15 Civil Law Committee hearing on HMOs’ hidden spending practices

Marty-Laine waiver legislative plan

   The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) allows states to apply for a State Innovation Waiver (section 1332) in 2017 to create their own health care programs. Basically, the state program must cover as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act and cannot add to the federal deficit. 

   Being single-payer, the Minnesota Health Plan is far superior in meeting these basics.

Here’s how the Marty-Laine plan will get us to the waiver:

2015: Senator Marty and Representative Laine introduced a health study bill that

1.    sets the principles (affordability for all, cost savings, choice of providers,

comprehensive care, etc.) that all proposals must meet;

2.    authorizes the Commissioner of Management and Budget to contract with

the University of Minnesota to study the proposals that are offered;

3.    invites proposals to be submitted to the legislature by Jan. 15, 2016.

2016: passage of the study legislation.

2017: passage of enabling legislation that directs the Minnesota Department of

Human Services to apply to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

for the State Innovation Waiver to allow the state to enact the selected plan that

best meets the principles.

   Legislators of both parties are dismayed that the HMOs are not reporting basic

financial data on the programs they run, amounting to 20% of the general fund

budget. This makes single-payer long overdue.


FALL 2014

Doctor, farmer, candidate voice state’s right to single-payer health care and standing up to corporate power at COACT’s 34th Farm Picnic

Dr. Laurel Gamm, MD, Co-Chair, MN State Physicians for a Nat’l Health Program

Paul Sobocinski, family farmer and  organizer,  Land Stewardship Project

Al Doty, House Dist. 9B Candidate, former Rep., and former Staff for Congressman Nolan

   “As a family physician, my heart breaks whenever an HMO or insurance company tells me I can’t give medically necessary care to a patient because they lack coverage,” Dr. Laurel Gamm, MD, Co-Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program Minnesota (PNHP-MN) told an audience of 103 people at COACT’s 34th Farm Picnic, August 17, in the central Minnesota farm community of Pierz.

   Standing up to corporate power in our lives, whether it’s HMOs profiteering on our health care or factory agriculture degrading the land and rural economy, was addressed by Paul Sobocinski, family farmer and organizer for the Land Stewardship Project (LSP).

   “Minnesota’s Corporate Farm Law mandates the protection of family farms and rural society which are being threatened by expanding multi-thousand cow factory dairies,” he said.

   Al Doty, House District 9 B Candidate and long-time champion for family farmers and single-payer, pledged that, as their state representative, he will support their positions on these issues and Minnesota’s right to enact a single-payer health program. He will work for the Minnesota Health Plan to achieve it, he promised, which won COACT’s enthusiastic endorsement.