I hope all is well with you and your family. Here are a couple of items that recently made news.
We received news that premiums for people who purchase health insurance individually – including MNsure enrollees – face substantial rate increases in 2016. The largest MNsure carrier, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has the highest average increase at 49 percent.
This is very unfortunate and provides further evidence as to how poorly this program is functioning. MNsure has been unstable since Day 1, with lagging enrollment numbers, security breaches, leadership problems and rates coming in far higher than we were promised.
Democrats who built MNsure said Minnesotans would save around $500 per year through MNsure. A number of factors are involved, but regulations and mandates instituted by Obamacare are at least part of the reason for higher prices.
Warnings from health experts went unheeded by advocates as MNsure was constructed and Minnesotans are now paying the price. Good state programs that already were in place to assist those in need were abandoned and now we are left with a MNsure model that has cost us upwards of $200 million without tangible benefits.
As a member of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, I have seen a number of very good proposals to bring increased savings and transparency to MNsure. Unfortunately, Democrats have been unwilling to acknowledge problems exist and continue to push back against much-needed reform.
Maybe this latest jolt brought by skyrocketing premiums will cause some people to come to the table and get serious about making improvements.
In other news, a group of legislators recently visited the Sherco Xcel Energy Power Plant in Becker and held a meeting in that town to discuss President Obama's Clean Power Plan. Members of the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability (JGEA) Finance and Policy Committee received testimony from a variety of policy experts, local elected officials, union officials and more.
The topic of the hearing centered on the Clean Power Plan from President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency that sets emissions reduction goals for power plants on a state-by-state basis and is likely to have a devastating impact on coal-powered power plants including the Sherco Power Plant in Becker.
Forcing utilities to close or convert existing coal-fired power plants is likely to mean higher energy bills and job losses for Minnesota families. People are rightfully concerned about how damaging this would be.
The state will be submitting compliance plans to the EPA to meet emissions reduction goals. Minnesota's initial goal was set at 40.6 percent by 2030 with the finalized goal set at 40.3 percent. Under the Clean Power Plan, Minnesota does not get credit for significant emissions reductions that have already taken place under the Next Generation Energy Act, likely making emissions reductions under the new rule even more costly and difficult to implement.