After a very long discussion on the Senate Floor last week, the Minnesota State Senate voted to pass the Minnesota Insurance Exchange, Senate File 1.

As part of the federal healthcare reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act, each state is asked to set up an Internet portal known as an "exchange" for the purpose of health insurance.

Small businesses with up to 100 employees or those without coverage can purchase health insurance in the exchange.

It is expected that approximately 1.3 million people, about quarter of Minnesotans, will use the exchange starting this October.

Many other states have decided not to organize their own exchange, including neighboring Wisconsin. In this case, the federal government will establish an exchange for them.

During the discussion on the Senate Floor, it became very clear that there are still several unanswered questions regarding the healthcare exchange.

I did not feel comfortable supporting legislation that will completely change the way health care is delivered in the state of Minnesota without knowing the short-term or long-term consequences.

This is not how legislation should be passed. The healthcare insurance exchange legislation itself will cost $332 million from 2011 to 2016.

Our responsibility is to ensure that the 25 percent of Minnesotans who use the exchange have affordable and accessible healthcare choices and their healthcare information is kept private.

Minnesota families, taxpayers, small businesses, individuals young and old deserve answers to the outstanding questions from last Thursday's floor debate: Will it cost me more? Will I keep my doctor? Will it protect my privacy? Will it be ready and accountable?

As it stands, this legislation does nothing to guarantee better healthcare, lower insurance premiums, help keep your family doctor, protect privacy or be accountable for those participating.

I believe Minnesotans and consumers benefit from choice and competition. I have heard from many constituents that they want to keep control over their healthcare and choose the best option for themselves, their families and employees.

I believe in health insurance reform that best suits individual needs and that will promote quality and efficiency, however, the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange passed last week does not accomplish this.

Local visits welcomed

Thank you to everyone who came to visit last week: Tri-County Electric Co-op, librarians, AFSCME Council 65, Family and Children's Center, Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, arts advocates and disability advocates.

As always, you are key to helping me understand the issues that affect you. I welcome and encourage you to get in touch with me and share your input, comments and concerns at (651) 296-5649 or email