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Long, spirited debate on health care exchange expected Monday

published 3/1/2013
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A bill that could create a state-run health care exchange will be the big focus next week when it heads to the House Floor Monday.

At a meeting with the media Friday, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) said she expects HF5 to generate a long, spirited debate and many amendments. But legislators are also under some pressure to act quickly. They have until March 31 to turn the bill into law otherwise the state would operate under a national exchange run by the federal government.

“I’m excited that we’re finally bringing this issue to the floor after two years of delay,” Murphy said, adding that the exchange is expected to save families $400 per year.

She called the bill a representation of good bipartisanship, but House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said there’s been little compromise.

“They haven’t taken one substantive Republican amendment yet,” he said. “There are tons of problems with this bill.”

In addition to offering amendments to the bill for Monday, Daudt said Republicans will be talking about the facts, what’s good for Minnesota, its economy and job creators.

Among the biggest problems in the health exchange that would be created by the bill is its governing board, which wouldn’t include any health insurance industry professionals, he said.

In light of the February Economic Forecast released Thursday, which showed a smaller budget deficit than originally projected, House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) highlighted the DFLers’ ongoing efforts to balance the budget and make investments in schools and children.

He also applauded HF991, sponsored by Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), to expand the Minnesota Investment Fund, which provides grants to help create jobs out of the private sector. The bill awaits action by the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee.

“It’s one of the ways we want to continue to move forward and grow the economy of our state,” Thissen said.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders say the forecast shows that their policies do work and are hoping to stay the course. But despite the forecast’s optimistic results, Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) noted that DFLers haven’t rolled back any of the new tax rates proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

 “You can grow revenue without growing tax rates,” he said. “We’ve proven that.”

- Liz Stoever

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