To the Editor,

Democrats recently brought forward a concerning and partisan Health and Human Services Omnibus budget bill. It was bloated with controversial mandates, measures that will decrease the quality of care for folks across the state, and proposals that increase government spending. The entire bill totaled to just over $46 million for 2024-2025, and over $36 million for 2026-27. This is alarming if you consider last year’s bill spent an unprecedented $6.1 billion and $6.6 billion in 2024-25 and 2026-27 respectively. The spending has gotten totally out of hand.

One of the single most troubling inclusions is that this bill now mandates insurance to cover abortion, abortion services, and “gender-affirming” care. This is very controversial and is an incredible overreach by government. “Gender-affirming” care is anything that includes medical, surgical, counseling, or referral services. We’re talking about procedures that are life-altering, and sometimes incredibly dangerous. Many of these procedures prey on the vulnerable and fail to address potential long-term issues of this type of care. This bill fails to cover care for de-transitioning, which proves this was a calculated move by Democrats. Not only is it wrong to mandate that these things be covered by insurance, but this will drive up plan costs for everyone. This is setting a terrible precedent. 

Another controversial area I want to point out is a section that allows childcare centers to adopt vaccination policies that would essentially prohibit children over two months of age from enrolling in their programs without first adhering to the childcare center’s vaccine requirements. In a time where childcare options are already dwindling, and costs are skyrocketing, this is going to put parents in a really bad place. This eliminates parents’ freedom to make medical decisions for their children in consultation with medical professionals. This portion of the bill is allowing childcare providers to dictate vaccine schedules – it’s another massive overstep. This is wrong. 

One good point I want to highlight is that there was a bipartisan effort to remove government-run healthcare, which was originally included in this year’s bill. There was a lot of strong feedback from numerous stakeholders, caregivers, and patients, and we were able to get this out of the bill in its last committee stop. Not only can Minnesota not afford it, but it simply isn’t feasible because of the drastic gaps it will leave in our healthcare system. Though I’m relieved we were able to remove that this year, folks should know that Democrats will continue pushing this controversial issue in future years. 

Healthcare should be affordable, reliable, and accessible, and this bill should have focused on that. Instead, the Democrats just followed last year’s troubling trend: increasing mandates, limiting personal freedoms, and driving up the cost of healthcare. Instead of looking at ways to increase affordability and quality of care, the Democrats have put forward a bill that gives childcare providers the authority to mandate vaccines on children as young as two months old, and forces insurance to cover abortion services and radical gender-affirming care procedures. There are a lot of alarming inclusions in this bill that will do nothing but drive up the cost of healthcare in Minnesota.

With session winding down this month, we are in the home stretch of bad bills and I will continue providing updates as more of these omnibus bills come forward. As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions and concerns at 

Sen. Paul Utke,

Park Rapids, Minn.