ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Help is coming for thousands of Minnesotans hit with skyrocketing health care premiums.
The Minnesota House and Senate passed an emergency aid package Thursday and sent it to the governor. Late Thursday evening, Governor Mark Dayton signed it into law.
The Minnesota House and Senate passed that rescue rebate for 125,000 Minnesotans hit with huge monthly premium hikes. But it took months to reach agreement, while Minnesota families worried about what to do.
Self-employed families are facing monthly insurance premiums of $2,500 a month or more. They make too much to get tax subsidies, but too little to be able to afford it.
After months of bickering, lawmakers are passing emergency aid.
Fighting back tears, the Senate architect of the rescue package spoke directly to families facing economic distress.
“To the farms and small business owners, to the entrepreneurs on our main streets who are worried, we are listening. We are doing our very best to get you help today,” Health and Human Services Chair Sen. Michelle Benson said.
The bill includes an instant 25 percent rebate that insurance companies will deduct from monthly bills. And it allows, for the first time in Minnesota, a for-profit HMO to expand coverage choices. It’s a move denounced by Democrats.
“They either charge more in premiums or they pay fewer claims, both of which are harmful to patients,” Sen. John Marty of Roseville said.
Republicans blame the jaw-dropping rate hikes on Obamacare and MNsure.
“And so today we are sitting here trying to right the ship. The ship that was sailing along fine until government intervened. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t sinking like it is now,” Sen. Carly Nelson of Rochester said.
That drew a sharp retort from Democrats, including a new DFL Senator who’s a doctor.
“To narrate that health care was fully covered and idyllic in Minnesota 10 years ago, before the government intervened and destroyed it, is a false narrative,” Sen. Matt Klein of Mendota Heights said.
The emergency relief bill passed overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate with bipartisan support. Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill Thursday night.
So how soon will the emergency relief be available to the people who need it? We’re told it will take a number of weeks for the insurance companies to re-tool computers and billing practices.
But the 25 percent rebate will be applied to monthly premium bills by April, and possibly sooner.