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Rochester-area legislators would like lower MNsure costs in their region

MNsure divides the state into nine regions for health insurance; the highest prices are in southeastern Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic.

Rochester-area legislators would like to find a way to change the way MNsure divides the state for the health insurance exchange.

MNsure’s exchange offers different plans and pricing in nine regions; Region 1, which includes the Rochester area and the Mayo Clinic, has the highest prices. For 2015, the second year of the exchange, there are some lower cost plans offered in that region, but it remains high, due to the premium care at Mayo, officials said.

Legislators from that area, from both political parties, would like to reduce the number of regions, or create one pool for the entire state, in order to reduce prices for their constituents, says the Rochester Post Bulletin.

Sen. Carla Nelson, a Republican from Rochester, said increasing the risk pool was one of the promises of the Affordable Care Act.

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“We definitely need to look at how we adjust those risk pool lines because they are certainly to our disadvantage and not even true to what MNsure was based upon,” Nelson said.

Rochester DFL Rep. Tina Liebling, tried unsuccessfully to pass a bill last session to bring down the area’s high rates. She told a legislative preview in Rochester that she’d ideally like to see single-payer health care insurance, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.

DFL Rep. Kim Norton, though, says the Legislature might not look kindly on changes that benefit only Rochester-area residents.

“Imagine what the folks in the rest of the state, how they will respond if we say, ‘Gee, we’re paying more in southern Minnesota and so we’re going to ask everyone else in the state to raise their rates for us,’ ” Norton said.