It's been a busy and productive first month of session. We have passed several key bills and I have introduced a number of bills to address problems facing Minnesota. Here is my update from St. Paul:
Health Care Bill Passes House and Senate, Signed by Governor
Last week was the culmination of months of work to deliver health care premium relief along with key reforms that Minnesotans need. In total, the relief package totaling almost $327 million will be taken from the budget reserves. Here is a quick overview of the bill that passed the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Dayton last Thursday.
$311,945,000.00 in premium relief will go to Minnesotans who purchased health care in the individual market.
Anyone who purchased coverage from the individual market will receive a 25 percent discount on their premium invoices.
$15 million will go to guaranteeing continuity-of-care for those currently undergoing life-saving treatment for an extra 120 days.
Reforms were also included to increase access and choices to begin to avoid out-of-control premium increases happening again. These are the first set of reforms with many more proposals for reform to come.
Increase transparency by requiring the publishing of preliminary rate filings within 10 days of receiving them. This will make sure we won’t be blindsided again by huge rate increases so late in the year. If this requirement had been in place, the Legislature could have taken action to improve the 2017 market.
Improve Access by allowing dropping the requirement that only non-profit HMOs to operate in Minnesota. This will allow for more choices in Minnesota’s market. This bill also makes it easier for small businesses to offer affordable plans by making changes to stop loss requirements for small businesses.
End to surprise billing from health care providers. Surprise billing is when an in-network provider uses an out-of-center provider, such as an anesthesiologist or lab for tests, and bills the patient for out-of-network cost.
Infrastructure investment and water safety bills
After talking with many local city officials and constituents, I have introduced a number of bills aimed at addressing the ability for small and rural cities to meet new water system and sewage treatment regulations as well as a bill to address blighted housing funds.
HF74 & HF75 – These bills each address helping small rural cities in updating and renovating their water treatment and sewage treatment facilities. They would establish a fund to grant very low or no interest loans to cities to make these upgrades. The cities will pay back into the fund and thus replenishing it, and allowing it to fund other cities doing the same. There are small differences in the bills regarding mechanisms that fund the account that is created but otherwise function identically.
HF80 – This bill dedicates the amount of aid that is given to a city to fund housing development to actually fund the revitalization and urban development. If state aid is being given to cities based on poor housing conditions, it should be used to address this problem.
Visits at the Capitol
Over the past couple weeks I have met with a number of people and groups to discuss their concerns, input, and questions regarding a variety of issues. I enjoy these discussions as they help me better understand their issues and how I can help address them in the legislature. A few of the groups I have spoken with recently include local nurses, bankers, and the Bicycle Alliance of MN.
I also presented two of my bills, introduced this session, to the Minnesota Youth Alliance group. It was a great and energetic discussion.
Please continue to stay in touch to share your thoughts and ideas on issues important to you. You can schedule a time to meet with me in my office any time by calling (651) 296-94236, or share your thoughts via email by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and have a great weekend,