By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Democratic Governor Mark Dayton is calling on state lawmakers to pass an emergency rescue bill. It would help thousands of Minnesotans facing skyrocketing health care premiums.

But Republicans, who now control the legislature, say any rescue package must also include reform. If state lawmakers *dont* act, 125,000 Minnesotans are facing monthly premium hikes up to 67 percent.

The jaw-dropping rate hikes are hitting families who make too much to qualify for tax subsidies, and too little to afford their monthly health care bill. Gov. Mark Dayton says time to help is running out.

Dayton is proposing a 25 percent instant rebate for individuals who earn more than $47,520 and $97,200 for a family of four, but Republicans say it’s not enough. GOP leaders who control the House and Senate want to include a bill to stabilize the individual insurance markets that nearly collapsed last fall.

“Minnesotans are going to find out very shortly when they try to make appointments to see their doctors for ongoing continuing cancer treatments that their doctors are no longer covered under their plan and their policy,” Minneosta House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R) said.

Republicans won the November election in part by blaming Democrats for the premium fiasco. Now, Democrats say it’s up to the Speaker of the House to deliver.

“Before the election, he said this was urgent,” Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) said of Daudt. “He was going to call on the governor to resign if the governor didn’t solve this problem.”

Jan. 31 is the open enrollment deadline for Minnesotans to sign up for health insurance. Democrats say many people are waiting to see what the legislature does.

“It’s time for the GOP to stop blaming and complaining, and lead,” Liebling said.

Complicating the situation, President-elect Donald Trump is promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. If that actually happens, Minnesota lawmakers say they’ll need to be ready to adapt.

In the meantime, thousands of Minnesotans may be deciding not to get insurance at all and just pay a fine of about $2,000 per family in 2017, which is far less for some families than paying a premium of $3,300 per month.

Pat Kessler

  1. Now this is a real shocker, thought those people in the legislature cared about the citizens of this state and would act to help and protect them. How foolish of me. But remember, we are never safe when the legislature is in session. The Repulsives are not going to help you.