The Legislature re-convened at the Capitol this week to finish budget work that was not wrapped up when the regular session ended last month.
Any hopes for a strong start to this special session immediately were derailed when the first real action House Democrats took was to present on the floor a bill that would result in skyrocketing health care costs, reduced health care options, and instability on Minnesota’s individual insurance market.
This happened because House Democrats and Governor Walz refuse to extend Minnesota’s nation-leading reinsurance program, omitting it from the omnibus Commerce and Energy package (SSHF06). While the House spent more than 12 hours discussing the bill on Thursday, it was tabled just before midnight and a vote has not yet taken place.
I have received many calls from people driven to tears because their health care rates soared with little chance they would ever reach their deductible. Letting reinsurance expire is a major mistake by Democrats and it would be crushing for many Minnesotans. Here is some background on this issue:
From 2014-2016, Minnesota’s individual health insurance market was brought to the brink of collapse by the Affordable Care Act, with health plan costs soaring up to 60 percent, insurers fleeing the marketplace, enrollment caps, and many counties left with just a single health plan option.
In 2017, House Republicans led efforts to pass a nation-leading reinsurance program that stabilized the market, resulting in lower health care costs for thousands of Minnesotans. The program has been funded for the past four years by the original appropriation set aside in 2017 and could have been renewed for a fifth year without needing additional state funding.
House Republicans have pushed for a fifth year of reinsurance but have been blocked by House Democrats and the governor, who have offered no alternative to the tens of thousands of Minnesotans who purchase off the MNsure exchange or who would not be helped by the American Rescue Plan Act subsidies.
The bottom line is Democrats recently raised health care taxes by more than a billion dollars and this year they are back at it, once again looking to drive our individual market toward collapse. It is concerning rates very well could go up by 30 percent or more and, in two more years, subsidies will vanish, and Minnesotans will once again be left scrambling due to damage the Democrats are inflicting on the individual market.
It’s a rocky start to this special session which does not bode well for the next week as we make our way through the rest of the bills that will shape the state’s next two-year budget.