ST. PAUL, MN—House Republicans held a press conference Wednesday to unveil proposals aimed at reducing health care costs and expanding choices for Minnesotans who obtain health insurance through MNsure, Minnesota's Obamacare health insurance exchange. The press conference comes after last week's announcement that MNsure rates for the 2016-2017 open enrollment period are set to skyrocket by 50-60% or more. Enrollment caps approved by the Minnesota Department of Commerce will also severely limit choices for Minnesotans shopping for insurance, with 53 counties expected to have just two provider options.
"Minnesotans need real leadership to bring down costs and expand choices in health care," said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. "Unfortunately, Democrats at the state and federal level have forced through one-sided proposals that have made health costs more expensive rather than more affordable."
"It's time for Democrats to stop blocking common-sense proposals to make health care more affordable and give Minnesotans more health care choices," added House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers. "Over the past three years, Democrats have obstructed Republican-led bills to bring more accountability to MNsure, lower health care taxes, and increase competition. Enough is enough."
Proposals put forward by House Republicans fall into two categories:
• Reduce the MNsure tax by half, saving families $22 million over the next three years
• Use $35 million in leftover MCHA funds for direct premium relief
• Seek waiver or encourage federal government to waive federal tax penalties for buying a non-qualifying plan
• End surprise billing to ensure transparency in pricing
• Transition Minnesota to the federal exchange, saving millions in overhead costs and improving user experience
• Secure federal waiver to allow eligible Minnesotans to access tax credits off the MNsure exchange
• Grant flexibility to the Department of Commerce by allowing the commissioner to waive the five year waiting period for companies to re-enter the individual market—provided the commissioner decides it's in the best interest of consumers.
"MNsure and the disastrous impacts of Obamacare are hurting Minnesota families. It's time to stop throwing good money after bad, get rid of MNsure, and do what we can to give Minnesotans meaningful choices and reduce costs," said Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
The MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee, co-chaired by Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, is set to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss MNsure premium rate increases, the status of MNsure's technology systems, and a preview of open enrollment which is set to begin in November.
"MNsure is causing hassles and headaches for family budgets, but also for counties, Main Street businesses, and countless others," added Rep. Davids. "From top-to-bottom, this is a failure that is wreaking havoc on Minnesotans everywhere."