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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Friday, January 20, 2017

If you are one of the tens of thousands of Minnesotans being wiped out by out-of-control health insurance premium costs, you’ll be pleased to learn the Minnesota House has begun to take action.


On January 19, we approved a health care emergency aid and access bill that’s going to allocate $300 million in order to help offset some premium costs and ensure continuity of care in severe health cases.


Minnesotans should be naturally angry that we have to be forced to use taxpayer dollars to repair damages done to people due to the MNsure/Obamacare debacle. $300 million is a lot of money.


But they should also be angry with us if we do not even attempt to address the all-Democrat approved law that helped put countless Minnesotans in a financial predicament. To only have a bill that partially pays for damages and doesn’t get to the root of the problem would be irresponsible.


The plan also would bring some access, competition, and transparency to the system by ending surprise billing; allowing for-profit HMO’s to enter the marketplace; and reducing the stop-loss limit, making it easier for small businesses to offer health insurance to employees.


An amendment I offered to the proposal was also approved. It gives Minnesotans expanded health care insurance options and allows them to significantly reduce their costs by allowing people to buy health insurance without being forced to buy all 68 of the state mandated coverages. This is a great first step in reducing the very regulations that contribute to our soaring health care premiums.


Very simply, it gives people choices that could result in lower health care costs. If someone wants to buy a plan that doesn't include certain benefits and they choose to pay the penalty, this gives Minnesotans that freedom to be covered while lowering their costs.


The bill is now expected to be sent to a joint House/Senate conference committee in order to create a compromise proposal that can be approved by both legislative bodies. It’s also worth noting that whatever comes out of conference will only be a first step towards addressing this health care debacle, and more legislation will be seen and approved as session moves forward.


But it’s clear we must enact health care reforms this session so we’re not in the same position a year from now with Governor Dayton asking us to use your tax dollars to fix the health care system that he championed. Those forced to buy extremely expensive insurance policies that they don’t want - and have managed to lose their doctors despite promises that wouldn’t happen – deserve far better.