ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton is blasting the White House for what he calls a stunning reversal on the state’s health care program.
State officials say the Trump Administration has failed to live up to its previous guarantees that it would honor a state program designed help low-income Minnesotans. Now, Dayton warns, more than a quarter million Minnesotans could face sharp increases in health care premiums and cuts to health care services.
In a letter to President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services and in a news conference Wednesday morning, Dayton vented his frustration and bewilderment at what he says is the Trump administration’s failure to live up to its promises.
“We followed their instructions exactly. We found out literally last week that it was a $369 million reduction,” Dayton said Wednesday.
The governor says contrary to every previous indication from the White House, Minnesota has not gotten a waiver for a reinsurance plan that passed the Minnesota Legislature last year.
Insurance companies, the governor and Republican lawmakers say that plan would lead to dramatically lower increases in some premiums. Without the waiver state officials say premiums for 160,000 Minnesotans who buy individual polices could go up by 20 percent.
“This is really inhumane, the effect it’s going to have one people,” Dayton said.
The governor, the Commissioner of Health and Human Services as well as the CEO of MNsure say they have been scrambling since last week to try and resolve the unexpected crisis, but even the governor’s calls to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price, have gone unanswered.
“I can’t even get the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the phone,” Dayton said.
While federal health department officials say they’re reviewing the governor’s letter, experts say the state may have few options, and that this sudden impasse that could affect so many is virtually unprecedented. Professor David Schultz said,
“The idea of just saying, ‘we are going to make a change,’ this abruptly is very, very unusual,” University of Minnesota Political Science professor David Schultz said.
The impasse comes less than two weeks before new health insurance premiums are expected to be released. The governor says he and Minnesota members of Congress will continue to reach out to the Trump administration.