By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Health care costs are once again a big topic at the Minnesota State Capitol. On Tuesday, we heard from doctors who worry skyrocketing costs are making their patients sick, and keeping them from getting better.

We are used to hearing concerns about the high cost of prescription drugs and healthcare expenses from consumers. Today’s discussion centered around three bills proposed by four doctors who are also lawmakers and part of the “doctors’ caucus.”

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One of the bills would create a pharmacy commission to investigate drug pricing.

The second would provide tax breaks to people whose premiums exceed 10% of their income.

The third would require insurance companies to cover four mental health visits per patient per year.

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The doctors said they routinely have patients who put off making appointments because of the high cost of care.

“I see it every day day. It breaks my heart, it breaks my heart. We are making people make choices on, ‘How am I going to take care of my congestive heart failure?’ … ‘I am going to make myself pee that day if my weight is too high that morning.’ This is crazy stuff,” Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska) said.

The “doctors’ caucus” say the only one of their bills they expect will get anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate is the bill that would require insurance companies to cover four mental health visits per patient annually.

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The frustration of these physicians was very clear at the Capitol, WCCO’s Esme Murphy reported. Jensen is leaving the Senate after this year. He has expressed his repeated frustration with trying to get things done in St. Paul.

Esme Murphy