ST. PAUL – Today, Representative Clark Johnson (DFL-North Mankato) introduced House File 92 seeking a federal waiver to expand MinnesotaCare in Minnesota creating a public option health plan.
“Given the challenges of the individual market, we need to create a public option for healthcare,” said Rep. Johnson. “This proposal is affordable, has no caps on enrollment, and MinnesotaCare has already served tens of thousands of Minnesotans.”
The bill would require the Commissioner of Human Services to submit a waiver request to the federal government asking to open MinnesotaCare enrollment to Minnesotans who wish to purchase coverage available in the program. If approved, new MinnesotaCare enrollees would be required to pay a premium. The program would not change for the current enrolled population, but individuals and families whose income is greater than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG) would now also be able to purchase MinnesotaCare benefits.
“This legislations provides a path for real and tangible reform for families and people who are hurting the most by the sky rocketing premiums. Minnesota needs the public option now,” said Rep. Johnson.
Given the high deductibles and cost sharing measures in many of the plans offered in Southern Minnesota, the legislators explained that this choice will be especially important for older Minnesotans, as MinnesotaCare would provide them with a coverage option that won’t threaten to drain their life savings if they need to access health care.
The level of benefits and lack of high deductibles could make MinnesotaCare a better option for some Minnesota families. This program would use the state’s leveraging power to increase transparency and reduce healthcare costs to consumers.
Rep. Johnson and former Senator Kathy Sheran introduced this legislation last year, but it was blocked by House Republicans after it was approved by the Senate.