Our laws and public programs reflect our values and provide a snapshot of who we are.

Do we value all Minnesotans equally? Do we believe each of us has inherent worth? Do we believe our communities are stronger when we invest in public health?

I believe each of us has inherent worth and each of us deserves access to truly affordable, usable health care-no matter where we live or how we work. And I believe Minnesota, as a wealthy and generous state, is capable of meeting everyone's basic health care needs.

One way Minnesota has done this for the past 27 years is through a fully funded Health Care Access Fund, paid for by a Provider Tax, which was enacted in 1992 with bipartisan support under Republican Gov. Arne Carlson.

The Provider Tax is a 2 percent tax paid by Minnesota's health care providers. The Provider Tax will sunset at the end of 2019 unless our legislators act to prevent this unnecessary loss of millions of dollars that support Minnesota's public health care programs.

The sunsetting of Minnesota's Provider Tax will create a statewide budget shortfall estimated at $700 million per year. The alternative Republicans have proposed may not stand in court and it's unlikely to raise enough revenue.

If legislators don't protect the Provider Tax this year, we risk draining the Health Care Access Fund, losing a proven revenue source, putting one million Minnesotans' health care at risk, and creating a ripple effect through our entire state budget.

We in greater Minnesota will be particularly impacted as many in our communities already struggle to afford and access health care.

I believe the role of our government should be to promote the common good. Please contact your legislators and ask them to stop the sunsetting of Minnesota's Provider Tax.

Jennifer Jacquot-DeVries

Brainerd