For more information contact: Tyler Blackmon 651-296-8826
Demands by insurers will make Minnesotans sicker, less financially secure
Saint Paul, MN – Noticing a trend among health care proposals this legislative session, State Representative Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) and State Senator Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) expressed alarm at the growing list of demands from health insurance companies and the negative effect these demands would have on Minnesota families if Republicans agree to implement insurance lobbyists’ wish list.
Below are just five examples of agenda items that have either already passed in the state legislature or are under active consideration by Minnesota Republican majorities.
· For-profit HMOs (HF 1, SF 1) – In order to pass short-term relief for Minnesota families struggling to pay their premiums, Republicans demanded that legislators include a provision allowing for-profit HMOs to sell in Minnesota’s insurance market without protecting health plan reserves earned in part with taxpayer funds. If our not-for-profit health plans convert to for-profits, those reserves are vulnerable.
· Eliminating essential benefits (Amendment to HF 1, HF 2026, SF 2164) - Rep. Steve Drazkowski’s now infamous amendment allowing insurers in Minnesota to drop coverage for addiction services, cancer, diabetes, and many other ailments was the most extreme version of this idea. But this concept of eliminating essential benefits from health insurance plans’ basic requirements is at the heart of other pieces of legislation at both the state and federal level.
· Reinsurance (HF 5, SF 720) – Instead of moving forward with the Governor’s MinnesotaCare Buy-In, Republicans passed a nearly $400 million reinsurance package in the House and a $600 million reinsurance package in the Senate that would give insurance companies a bailout with no guarantee it would lower rates or increase coverage options for Minnesota families.
· Blocking prior authorization (HF 747, SF 593) – Rep. Rod Hamilton's bill curbing prior authorization requirements would restore the patient-doctor relationship by limiting the power of insurance and pharmacy benefit managers, who often deny patients the drugs their doctors have prescribed them. Insurance companies have pushed hard against this bipartisan legislation that would put more power in doctors' and patients hands, preferring the status quo that allows them to deny doctors' prescription recommendations.
· Repealing guaranteed renewability (HF 2195, SF 1963) – Current law mandates that individual health plans extend coverage as long as premiums are paid. Rep. Greg Davids and Senator Michelle Benson’s bills would repeal that measure, allowing health insurers to not renew existing policies, forcing Minnesotans off their current plans.
“Minnesota health insurance executives have taken advantage of this period of federal uncertainty to ram through a series of changes to our health care system that will ultimately leave Minnesotans sicker and financially insecure," warned Rep. Murphy. “By chipping away at consumer protections bit by bit, insurance companies are hoping we won’t notice as they improve their bottom line at the expense of Minnesota families just trying to get by.”
“Minnesota has a long tradition and history of innovative health care policy,” said Sen. Lourey. “However, this year that tradition and history has stopped. Health insurance companies are now writing our bills without regard for Minnesotans wellbeing. We must stop giving into the insurance companies that are only worried about their bottom line and start working on true reform to ensure Minnesota keeps moving forward.”
Erin Murphy serves as the DFL Health and Human Services Finance Committee lead in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Tony Lourey serves as the Ranking DFL Member Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee in the Minnesota Senate.
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