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State Representative Paul Anderson

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Posted: 2017-10-02
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Guest Column

The latest on Minnesota’s health insurance rates


 

By Rep. Paul Anderson

Residents of Minnesota who obtain their health insurance on the individual market will find out this week what it’s going to cost for coverage next year. The Dept. of Commerce was scheduled to announce on Monday what those rates for 2018 are going to be. These rates affect around 200,000 folks, those who do not obtain insurance from the government or from their employer.

Because of legislation passed last session called “reinsurance,” those rates are expected to show only modest increases, a far cry from the double-digit increases that approached 50 percent or higher last year. In some cases these new rates will be flat or even show a reduction, with some estimates showing decreases of 15-28 percent for coverage in 2018.

Although the state passed the reinsurance program called the Premium Security Plan earlier this year, it wasn’t until last month that it became official. That’s because it was contingent on the federal government approving the plan by issuing what’s known as a 1332 waiver. With the announcement Sept. 22 of the waiver, the feds will fund 60 percent of our reinsurance program for two years with an infusion of $323 million.

As of this time, there is confusion about another aspect of federal funding of Minnesota’s health care. The feds denied the second part of Minnesota’s waiver request, the one that affects funding for MinnesotaCare, the state-run program for residents who qualify based on certain income levels. That possible reduction in funding amounts to nearly $370 million, although our congressional delegation is seeking clarification on this ruling and a change of heart from Washington officials. Even if the reduction stands, MinnesotaCare will see no changes to program participants in 2018.

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Took part last week in a learning session on Aquatic Invasive Species on Lake Koronis, near Paynesville. That lake, located mainly in Stearns County with a smaller area in Meeker County, has been infected with starry stonewort for several years. It’s mainly around the edges of the 3,000 acre lake in shallow areas. This species is relatively rare, with only a handful of lakes in the state being infested, so far. It is an algae-type of growth and produces a heavy mat of vegetation that can make swimming or boating very challenging.

Starry stonewort was also detected this summer on Lake Minnewaska in Pope County. It was found only in the marina on the Starbuck end of the lake and was chemically treated within days of its discovery. Lake association president Mike Stai is cautiously optimistic that they have kept the invasive from entering the main body of the lake. He told me that the lake association got a permit from the DNR to do the application and that the association paid to have it done. They are monitoring the 7 areas in the marina where Starry stonewort was detected, and so far, no re-growth has been found. Stai added that he thinks public awareness is the key to early detection and, if found early, these invasive species can be managed.

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