ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Finding a fix for MNsure is a hot topic at the State Capitol.
Open enrollment starts next week, and if something isn’t done, thousands of Minnesotans will end up with health premiums they can’t afford to pay. But on Thursday, DFL Governor Mark Dayton said he has a plan to help that focuses on insurance rebates.
Dayton said his plan would reduce rate increases from 55 percent to 16 percent on average. And he says it would reduce monthly premiums by 25 percent. This would focus on those 120,000-plus Minnesotans who are not eligible for a federal tax credit under MNSure, but are buying insurance on the individual market.
Governor Dayton said that they have three objectives: To start the plan under severe time restraints. The program also has to provide immediate financial assistance to people. And lastly, the program will require taking more than $300 million from the state surplus to help pay for the rebates.
“I emphasize that this is a draft proposal subject to further refinement in discussions with legislators. If anyone has another plan that is better to address those three objectives, I’m all ears,” said Dayton.
Governor Dayton said he’d like to have an agreement in place by Tuesday and then call a special session to finalize a plan after the election.
Here’s his statement in full:
“As I have said before, the Affordable Care Act is now causing very difficult financial problems for about two percent of Minnesotans, who purchase their insurance policies through the Individual Market and are above the income eligibility for federal tax credits. The other half of those people in the individual market will find significant financial assistance by purchasing their coverage through Minnesota’s Health Exchange, MNsure, and receiving federal tax credits, which will greatly reduce their insurance costs. Estimates are that as many as 100,000 Minnesotans, who qualify for this financial assistance, have thus far not taken advantage of it. It is crucially important that all Minnesotans, who will be buying their insurance policies in the Individual Market, first contact MNsure representatives, either on-line at MNsure.org or by calling 1-855-3MNSURE. MNsure is ready and able to help you.
Dayton said he’s reached out to lawmakers at the Capitol, including House Speaker Kurt Daudt.
On Wednesday, the GOP leader said he’d call for Dayton’s resignation if he didn’t feel he was working to fix the problem. A spokesperson for the Governor said he wouldn’t dignify Daudt’s “temper tantrum” with a response. Dayton said he’s hoping to hear back from lawmakers sooner rather than later.
“The ball is in their court now. Someone has a better idea, then fine. If they don’t have a better idea we can do this one or nothing at all. We have to face that reality,” said Dayton.
As the Governor mentioned, he’s all ears on how to fix this. He said he likes one idea by Republican Representative Greg Davids of Preston to push back the start of open enrollment a month, so they have more time to fix the problem. The governor said up to 100,000 other Minnesotans already qualify for financial help.
He urged them to contact MNsure before open enrollment starts next week. You can find help online or call 1-855-3-MNSURE.