When I represent you in District 20A, I will work on the issues that are so important to our Minnesota families: access to quality, affordable healthcare; rural broadband; pharmaceutical costs; senior care; and family farms. I have a demonstrated history of success working on complicated issues with both private and government agencies.
It’s time you had a representative in the legislature who will bring people together through bipartisan cooperation to solve the problems facing the people of Minnesota House 20A.
I’m Barbara Dröher Kline, and I’m working hard to be your representative for Minnesota House District 20A. I grew up in Minnesota, where my father had his own construction company and my mother sold real estate. I learned early on the value of work and the reward of building something from the ground up.
I am a graduate of Luther College, and I am passionate about public service. I have spent my life helping others, in direct service and in public policy; whether it’s seniors, persons with mental or physical disabilities, or families in crises. Currently, I help individuals and families plan for college, retirement, or their senior years through my work with Thrivent Financial.
My husband and I live near Union Hill with our three horses and four dogs in an old farmhouse that we renovated. When I can bring my love for animals and my passion for public service together, I do. Whether it’s using horses with veterans who have PTSD, or bringing my poodles to the memory care unit at the Lutheran Home in Belle Plaine, I have found healing power in animals.
As a healthcare consumer, perhaps you’ve experienced one of the following health insurance “gotchas:”
- You searched around for the right drug plan, only to find the insurance company has changed its formularies and no longer covers the drug you’ve been taking for years.
- You had surgery at your local hospital, only to find that some of the staff who assisted were out of network, sticking you with added costs.
- You went in for your free yearly wellness exam, but made the mistake of actually asking your doctor about a health problem, thus turning your free screening exam into a billable event.
- You went into the emergency room feeling seriously ill, but test results showed it wasn’t an “emergency “ in the eyes of the insurance company, and now you are stuck with the bill.
- You’re concerned about the healthcare future for your children and their children.
- You’re concerned about the changing landscape of Medicare cost plans in rural Minnesota.
Not to mention the issues of rising premiums, increasing drug costs, and evermore out of pocket expenses.
I am a problem solver and I will work to find practical solutions to the many barriers to care in our current system, while working across the aisle to develop long term solutions.
RURAL BROADBAND CONNECTIVITY
In Le Sueur and Scott Counties, there are huge areas of inadequate broadband coverage and infrastructure. Broadband, for these discussions, is reliable, high-speed internet transmission. The lack of this service means students have trouble completing school work and seeking future opportunity, small businesses have trouble connecting with customers and vendors, farmers have less efficient operations, and options for telemedicine are closed.
Here is a map showing broadband capability in the Le Sueur County region. Folks, the coverage is extremely limited! Click here to learn Broadband 101, Broadband Technologies Overview & What’s happening in South Central Minnesota.
A new federal infrastructure proposal includes funding for rural areas, but does not include anything specific for broadband. Broadband will be competing with roads for infrastructure funds in each state. Closing the digital divides requires dedicated and adequate capital. In sparsely populated areas, it is not economical for private industry to deploy broadband infrastructure.
Minnesota has made grant funds available as well. However, new broadband providers want to cross into territories “held” by current vendors, there is an appeal process. Southern Minnesota telecommunications vendor Bevcomm, for example, obtained Minnesota grant funds to expand from New Prague south into Heidelberg this year but did not plan to go further west due the ability of telecommunications vendor Frontier to deny approval. Next year, I understand, Bevcomm is willing to plan to expand further with support for its efforts.
I am a representative who understands broadband is an important lifeline for education and economic development in rural communities. And, I understand new rules eliminating net neutrality will further disadvantage rural communities.
Since April 2018, I have been leading a coalition of area citizens which is exploring our options, current position and opportunities to expand broadband capability in Le Sueur County and southern Scott County. Below, see the timeline of the coalition’s activities.
April 4, 2018 – Attended The Region 9 Development Commission’s Connect Rural Broadband Summit – assessed the challenges, shared success stories and identified action steps for the future. We met representatives from The Blandin Foundation.
May 15, 2018 – Presented the coalitions’ activities summary to the Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners – the board approved the coalition’s grant application to The Blandin Foundation for further research activities.
May 31, 2018 – Submitted grant application to The Blandin Foundation – Although the full grant proposal was not awarded, The Foundation did award the coalition 32 hours of Blandin staff consultation work to develop a plan for future activities. This award includes assistance to do an online survey of area residents of their needs and wants. This survey is slated to debut in August 2018.
June 19, 2018 – Attended The Upper Midwest E-Connectivity Listening Session in Faribault – Coalition members heard needs and success stories showing collaboration between federal, state, county and local government along with vendor collaborations that have brought success to other communities. Here is a the listening session on You Tube. Agencies within the federal government are also working to improve broadband access through the Broadband Interagency Working Group.
late June, 2018 – Met with Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund (SEMIF) President Tim Penny – Sought advice on how to map existing businesses and schools that need broadband access and how to include possible future businesses and schools. The idea here is to develop this map parallel to the installation plan presented by vendors so access will go to where it is actually needed.
July 2018 – Met with Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative – Identified opportunities with the director to partner on broadband installation.
– Working with Minnesota Office of Broadband Development – with the director, working to position the coalition and Le Sueur County for 2019 funding.
August 2018 – Connect citizens with the online survey – Find as many citizens as possible to do the online survey developed by The Blandin Foundation.
HELP IMPROVE BROADBAND CONNECTIVITY IN LE SUEUR COUNTY
September 2018 – Meet all possible vendors – Identify and meet all broadband vendors and possible partners
October 23-24, 2018 – Attending the conference Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota – The Blandin Foundation will select communities to have their consultants analyze development strategies. Here’s more about the conference.
FAMILY FARMS & RURAL ECONOMY
The family farm is the backbone of our rural economy. Yet, the family farmer is being buffeted on all sides by forces beyond operators’ control:
- High healthcare premiums for the individual insurance market
- Competition from large agribusinesses which can accept lower prices due to economies of scale
- Trade wars
- Decreasing subsidies for biofuels due to changing political winds
- Immigration issues, impacting availability of farm labor
- Deficient rural broadband, hurting the efficiency of operations, the ability to sell crops, the ability for the spouse to telecommute and ability of students to access education while working on the farm.
- Succession issues.
- Property tax issues.
Between 2013 and 2017, Minnesota alone lost 800 farms. We are losing not just farms, but a way of life. Family farms feed rural areas with more than food; they preserve a culture of self sufficiency and family heritage. They support local businesses. Family farmers are caretakers of our soil and water.
As your representative in St. Paul, I support a health care system that has a broad network of providers at a reasonable cost. I will work to expand broadband access in our district. I support expansion of rural mental health programs. And I will work with the many farm groups to keep communications open between the legislature and the farmers in our area.
SENIORS AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
With the aging of the baby boom generation, Minnesota is going to be facing a tsunami of issues related to long term care, home healthcare, spousal impoverishment, and adult protection. Currently, two thirds of Minnesota’s Health and Human Services budget goes to the cost of seniors in nursing homes.
As someone who has worked on many of these issues with both public and private agencies, I have the experience to tackle these challenges.
I support allowing the well spouse to not pay income taxes on money that is taken out of retirement accounts to pay for nursing home care.
I understand where public and private funds can be most effective.
I support education and support efforts to assist families and seniors and couples at risk. There are already numerous services, tools and ideas available for these people and situations.
Other issues I am monitoring include: Spousal impoverishment, Medicare reimbursements and coverage, nursing home placement and the family.
This content was originally published at http://www.barbaradroherkline.org/