Two weeks ago I was sworn in again as your State Representative. It’s a privilege and honor to continue to represent you at the Capitol. It’s been a busy two weeks. We jumped right back into action with floor sessions, committee hearings, and meetings with constituents. Here are a few things that are happening:
Health Insurance Premium Relief
Minnesotans who buy their own health insurance on the individual market are facing steep premium increases. Those with lower incomes can get immediate help through the insurance exchange--MNsure--to pay the premiums. But those who make even a little too much money are facing deep financial pain. Some may even choose to go without insurance. DFL legislators supported a plan on in the first week that Governor Dayton put forward last October. The governor's plan--which was initially supported by Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and the Senate--would reduce 2017 premiums by 25 percent for about 125,000 Minnesotans. It is not a perfect plan, but it has the advantage of simplicity and certainty, so consumers could get help as quickly as possible.
The GOP is now insisting on a different way of distributing premium assistance. They want to build a new system in state government that would verify consumers’ residency, tax information, and insurance purchase, and then mail individual rebate checks to consumers. This system would be full of red tape and would be unable to send checks for many months--possibly as late as 2018. It would also cost about $20 million to administer.
Unfortunately, Republican legislators are also taking the opportunity to help corporate insurance companies. They are proposing sweeping and risky changes to the insurance system--including allowing for-profit health insurance companies to operate in Minnesota. Changes to the insurance system could potentially cause even more instability and rate increases next year, but the GOP in both House and Senate have rushed them through committees. They refuse to pass relief for consumers without their other proposals. This is holding hostage the over 100,000 Minnesotans who need insurance in place before the end of open enrollment--January 31.
We must take steps to stabilize the insurance market this session if we are to keep an individual market at all. But changing the insurance system is tricky business. The public needs time to weigh-in on long-term changes or we could make the problem worse. We can have that conversation throughout the rest of the legislative session, but many Minnesotans need relief now and there’s no excuse not to deliver it. I’ll continue pushing for immediate relief.
Visit the Newly Restored Capitol and My Office
The newly restored Capitol is an amazing sight to behold. Even if you’ve been to the Capitol before, it’s worth a trip to come see it again. I encourage you and your family to come visit.
The Capitol is open seven days a week. Free 45-minute tours are available daily and start on the hour. They leave from the Information Center in Room 126. If you have a larger group, you can schedule a tour by emailing email@example.com or calling 651-259-3003. For K-12 Field Trips, visit mnhs.org/fieldtriprequest or call 1-800-387-5008.
Finally, I want to make sure you know you can contact me about issues that are important to you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me to schedule an appointment or share your concerns via phone or e-mail. If you’re going to visit the Capitol and wish to visit me, please give my office a call ahead of time because we can be pretty busy.