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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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Many people face rising health insurance costs

Friday, October 02, 2015

Dear Neighbor,

 

Minnesotans who purchase health insurance coverage on the individual and small-group markets face increases of between 14 and 49 percent in 2016. This includes people enrolled in MNsure, Minnesota's version of Obamacare.

 

MNsure advocates said this program would save Minnesotans around $500 per year, but the reality is prices are spiraling out of control. I do not know what citizens are coming out ahead in this deal. I have not heard from anyone that is and now it looks like people are being priced right out of the market.

 

I am most concerned about retirees living on fixed incomes. It used to be that housing was their biggest expense, but now health insurance often is their largest commitment. And deductibles are so high they can't afford to go receive treatment because the first dollars are theirs.

 

You can't blame the insurance companies for these increases. That is what you get when you have a system like Obamacare that is full of mandates and regulations. Last year the company with the most MNsure customers – Preferred One – announced it was dropping out because selling insurance through the program was not sustainable.

 

That was a red flag that should have inspired bipartisan reform at the Capitol during this year's session. House Republicans passed legislation that would improve transparency and lower rates by increasing access and competition. Estimates showed significant savings for taxpayers would result, but Democrats refused to support the improvements we offered.

 

They refuse to acknowledge the severity of MNsure's shortcomings, even though the state auditor said in February that MNsure’s failures outweighed its achievements in its first year of operation.

 

We already have sunk nearly $200 million into MNsure. Enrollment is only a fraction of what we were told it would be. Security breaches have taken place and the head of MNsure was ousted. It makes you wonder how bad things have to get before people are willing to consider making changes.

 

Whether it is seeking improvements or altogether scrapping MNsure, this is a serious discussion that needs to take place. That should be a top priority for the 2016 session because Minnesotans can't afford government to drag its feet while their health insurance bills keep rising.

 

Sincerely,

Bud

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