One million Minnesotans are at imminent risk of losing access to essential health care services through a sunset of Minnesota's Provider Tax. This would be a huge step backward for Minnesota, especially at a time when so many of us in our state and around the country are asking for more access to truly affordable and usable health care, regardless of how much money we make, what jobs we have, where we live or what health issues we have or may get.

As a state, we are 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, largely paid for by the Provider Tax, which was enacted in 1992 with bipartisan support under Republican Governor Arne Carlson.

The Health Care Access Fund supports Minnesota's public healthcare programs and makes public health investments in reducing chronic diseases, preventing Alzheimer's and opioid misuse, and addressing health care shortages in rural and other underserved areas.

Every other state in the country except Alaska has a provider tax.

This critical source of revenue, almost $700 million per year, is now at risk in Minnesota because of a political deal cut at the end of the 2011 legislative session to sunset the provider tax at the end of 2019. So many of us are tired of the politics of division.

This does not have to be a bipartisan issue. It can just be good financial management to keep doing what has been working well since 1992, rather than put our entire state budget at risk with the loss of this proven revenue source.

We in rural communities will be particularly impacted as many in our communities already struggle to afford and access health care. Please contact your legislators and ask them to stop the sunsetting of Minnesota's Provider Tax.

Paula Williams