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Special session: Provide relief to insurance premium increases

REUTERS/Eric Thayer
When the MNsure health insurance premium rates were announced at increases of 50 to 60 percent, it was clear to many that the system wasn’t working as planned.

The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.

A Senate DFL plan to ask Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session of the Legislature to mitigate huge health insurance premium increases on the state run exchange makes sense for what some are calling an “emergency situation.”

While it may appear that the Senate DFL is scrambling politically before the election to distance itself from the MNsure system it has supported in the past, all the political players should heed a good faith effort to save Minnesotans from horrendous premium increases and a loss of coverage.

When the MNsure health insurance premium rates were announced at increases of 50 to 60 percent, it was clear to many that the system wasn’t working as planned. Even when federal tax credits are applied, premium increases are too steep for the 5 percent of the people who buy on the individual market.

It’s not unexpected that the GOP would criticize the MNsure exchange as they have from the start. But they can play a key role in fixing it and take at least half of the credit.

When the rates were announced, the Senate DFL was the first to suggest and ask Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session to address the issue. There are apparently already some plans in place that nearly won approval last year that would create temporary relief from high prices.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has proposed a bill introduced by his caucus last year that would provide tax rebates to people facing the high insurance costs. The bill would limit premiums to about 10 percent of a person’s income. Bakk says the tax rebates could be paid for with the state’s budget surplus or rainy day funds. The rebates would only be in place for one year until the Legislature could find a more permanent solution.

It’s hard to find a good reason for not calling the special session and approving a rebate bill or some other form of relief. Whether it’s before or after the election shouldn’t matter too much, though people can begin choosing a plan Nov. 1 and have until Jan. 31 to finalize their choice.

There are many complex reasons prices are increasing so drastically on the MNsure exchange. Translating them into election-year sound bites won’t serve anyone.

We urge the DFL and GOP to get together on a solution and put together immediate relief in a special session.

Republished with permission.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/27/2016 - 11:40 am.

    It’s Time for Our Republican Legislators

    answer for all of us this simple question:

    Whom do you serve?

    Is it the people who elected you,…

    or the pundits of “conservative” talk radio and TV?

    Your willingness to spend available money to assist the Minnesotans who are being hit,…

    BY THE INSURANCE COMPANIES selling policies on the MNSure Exchange,…

    with massive price increases,…

    or your failure to do so,…

    will make it clear whether you serve your constituents,…

    or people whose punditry and perspectives originate from places FAR AWAY from where we live,…

    people who have NO concern for us, here in Minnesota,…

    but only care that you continue to kiss their rings (or other body parts),…

    in order that they might continue to feel powerful and important.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/27/2016 - 12:12 pm.

      All that said, what is your recommendation? Continue to raise taxes on most citizens to give some citizens more credits?

      ACA added a lot of cost to the pool and therefore costs increase. (ie coverage for pre-existing conditions, additional base requirements for plans, coverage until 26 on Parent’s plans, etc) Then we complain that cost increased.

      One more point: on the news they often discuss the number of people who gained insurance due to ACA. All the while neglecting to mention that most of them were because of the “tax payer funded healthcare” / Medicaid expansion…

      Now ACA has good and bad aspects… Low cost was never one of them.

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