By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says time is running out to help tens of thousands of Minnesotans facing skyrocketing health care premiums on January 1.

The Democratic governor accused Republicans of dragging their feet about fixing the problem, after making it the centerpiece of their election campaigns.

“I’m running out of patience,” Dayton said.

The health care crisis is hitting 133,000 Minnesotans who make too much money for subsidies, but not enough to afford monthly rate hikes of up to 67 percent.

The dairy-farming Buck family told WCCO-TV last month their premiums will spike from $1,650 to $3,300 a month.

“It’s insane,” David Buck said. “I don’t know, it can’t go on.”

Gov. Dayton is proposing a premium rebate for families like the Bucks, using $313 million from the state’s budget surplus to pay 25 percent of monthly insurance bills for a year.

Mark Dayton and Kurt Daudt (credit: CBS)

Mark Dayton and Kurt Daudt (credit: CBS)

But Dayton, who set Monday as a deadline for agreeing to a special session, says Republicans will not agree.

“We’re running out of time,” Dayton said. “Quit dilly-dallying and get to work, and decide whether you are going to support my proposal, which is ready to go, and is viable, or you don’t want to do it.”

Republicans featured the Bucks in a political ad during the 2016 election year, and won both houses of the Minnesota legislature — promising to address the crisis.

The house speaker, GOP Rep. Kurt Daudt, even suggested just eight days before the election that Dayton might have to resign.

“And if I find out that those people aren’t working 24/7 to find a solution to help these people get health insurance on January 1, I’m going to call for Dayton’s resignation myself, personally,” Daudt said.

Dayton says Republicans must agree to a fix by Monday, or the chances of a special session are “a coin flip.”

“I want to do it, I’m prepared to do it, I’m ready to do it,” Dayton said.

House Republicans say they have provided multiple plans to fix the health care premium crisis.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Daudt issued a written statement:

“The meetings (with the Governor) have been productive. We continue to work with his administration and the Senate DFL.”

Pat Kessler