I hope you had a blessed and relaxing Easter. This last week, the House appointed members to joint conference committees with the Senate to debate and resolve the differences between House and Senate versions of budget bills. These conference committees will meet over the next several weeks, and will pass the final omnibus bills once agreements are reached.
House and Senate Republican leadership agreed to set the final committee deadlines for policy and budget bills much earlier this year than they have been in the past. Our Republican majorities want to leave plenty of time to negotiate with Governor Dayton, because no bill will pass into law without his signature. He will have ample opportunity to participate in the negotiating process if he chooses.
Here is an article from House public Information Services with more detailed information about the conference committee process: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12783
Throughout this session I have talked about the health insurance market reforms that House Republicans have passed. By way of a summary, MNsure, Minnesota’s ObamaCare, has caused devastation in our insurance industry in Minnesota. While health insurance reform in Washington D.C. seems to have come to a stand-still, Minnesota Republicans have made progress in getting relief for Minnesotans who have lost their insurance coverage, or can no longer afford their premiums.
The first bill we passed in the House, the Emergency Aid & Access act provided emergency relief for 130,000 Minnesotans, delivering 25% premium reduction that will be seen by those who qualify as early as this month. This law includes reforms to ensure continuity of care for people receiving life-saving treatment and end-of-life care. It also increases competition and options by allowing for-profit insurance companies to sell plans in Minnesota’s individual market. In addition, it will allow organizations and member-owners, like farm cooperatives, to provide health insurance to their members.
Again, insurance relief is on its way this month for those who qualify. I will continue to keep you updates on these provisions and conference committee negotiations as we move forward with session.