MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s top candidates for governor are mixing it up over health care.

Republican Jeff Johnson said Tuesday rural hospitals could close if Democrat Tim Walz‘s plan passes. Walz accused Johnson of “mis-characterizing” his proposal.

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“Tim Walz wants a one-size-fits-all government takeover of health care,” said the announcer in Jeff Johnson’s TV ad.

Johnson says Walz will make health care chaotic. He’s proposing to take Minnesota back — to the future.

“Before Obamacare, before MNsure, Minnesota led the nation in health care costs, in health care accessibility, in the number of people insured, in innovation,” Johnson said. “We were the best in America. That’s not the case anymore.”

Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz (credit: CBS)

Johnson appeared with President Donald Trump at a campaign rally last week in Rochester. He supports the president’s efforts to abolish Obamacare.

The Johnson Health Care Plan:

  • Abolish Obamacare, MNsure
  • More private competition, out-of-state policies
  • Guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Johnson says he would immediately get rid of MNsure and join the federal exchange: healthcare.gov. He would allow more private competition, like allowing out-of-state insurance companies to sell policies in Minnesota — but still guaranteeing affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions.

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    Walz says Johnson’s plan will do the opposite: raise premiums. He says in a new TV ad it took 10 years for his mother to pay the hospital bills when his father died.

    “I’m Tim Walz, and no one should go bankrupt because a family member gets sick,” he said.

    The Walz Health Care Plan:

  • Buy-in to Minnesota Care
  • Keep provider tax to pay for it
  • Walz wants to give people a buy-in to Minnesota Care, a state insurance program for the working poor. He would keep Minnesota’s provider tax to pay for it.

    “As governor of Minnesota, I want to move us beyond this discussion of insurance reform, some are worthy and some are not, and start focusing on those indicators of reducing cost,” Walz said.

    Public opinion polls show health care is the number-one concern of Minnesota voters, and that is exactly what we are now seeing on the campaign trail.

    Both candidates faced off in a debate Tuesday night in Willmar.

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    Check out WCCO-TV’s 2018 Election Guide — an easy one-stop place to learn about each candidate before casting your ballot this fall.