MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is still no insurance fix for 125,000 Minnesotans facing monthly insurance rate hikes.
Republicans and Democrats squared off again Monday over how to get emergency help to Minnesotans whose insurance bills are rising up to 67 percent a month.
They make too much income to qualify for tax subsidies to lower their monthly premiums, and too little to be able to afford the skyrocketing cost.
If lawmakers do not pass emergency aid, and quickly, hard-hit Minnesotans could be stuck without any insurance at all.
“I don’t play chicken with this. I’m as serious as a heart attack,” said Republican State Senator Michelle Benson, the chair of the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.
Benson supports a $300 rescue plan, sending insurance rebate checks to the hardest-hit Minnesotans, but she says it must be coupled with a plan to fix why it happened.
“Writing a check helps the people who’ve been hurt, but we need to solve the underlying problem or we’re back here next year needing another $300 million because we didn’t deal with the problem at hand,” Benson said.
Insurance companies say they are losing too much money on private policies they issued under the new health care law, but it is a problem the governor’s top money man says cannot be solved quickly.
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans says a 25-percent rate reduction will immediately fix the biggest problem first.
“We believe there are people waiting to find out whether there will be a 25-percent reduction in premiums to determine whether they can afford to buy insurance,” Frans said.
Despite difficulty for some, more people are signing up for private insurance through MNsure. More than 103,578 people bought insurance in 2016, which is a new record.
MNsure reports that most are getting tax subsidies to lower their monthly premiums: an average of $672 a month, and $8,000 a year.