MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lawmakers are struggling to fix the shocking spike in monthly health care premiums for 125,000 Minnesotans.

Some of those bills are increasing as much as 67 percent.

Republicans are proposing a $300 million right-away rebate, and later-down-the-line reforms.

“Most reasonable Minnesotans would say if you’re going to spend $300 million, you should make some changes in the underlying problems,” said Sen. Michelle Benson, chair of the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy committee.

The GOP plan sends a 25-percent rebate to all hard-hit consumers, but only for three months. After that, rebates would be phased out for higher incomes — families making more than $194,400 a year.

But Democrats scuttled the Republican fix before it even got started.

“Here we go again! This is Groundhog Day, members!” said Rep. Tina Liebling, D-Rochester.

Democrats object to Republican efforts to include more than rebates, claiming they are also making far-reaching future changes to health care laws.

“Members, this is a really risky and reckless bill,” Liebling said.

Republicans want state finance officials to verify incomes and send out rebates, not the insurance companies. But Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans says it is cumbersome and costly.

“To change that now require[s] a government agency to issue the checks to every insured [individual], and then to have income testing in the Department of Revenue adds a lot of cost and a lot of burden,” Frans said.

Gov. Dayton wanted lawmakers to pass the emergency insurance relief by Friday, but that is not going to happen. It is more likely to come next week at the earliest.

And hard-hit consumers may have to pony up for insurance now, and get reimbursed later.

Pat Kessler

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