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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brian Daniels (R)

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Legislative Update (2-20-15)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friends and Neighbors,

Another week is in the books as we continue to do the people’s work here in St. Paul. It was an eventful week with the release of the Legislative Auditor’s evaluation of MNSure as well as an important bill that addresses the Governor’s recent salary pay raises he handed out to members of his cabinet.

Legislative Auditor’s Report on MNSure

On Tuesday, the Legislative Auditor released its highly anticipated MNSure evaluation report. The non-partisan auditor’s office concluded that, “MNSure’s failures outweighed its achievements.”

Many Minnesotans are all too aware of the technical woes that MNSure’s website and call center has faced. The Auditor’s report corroborated much of the anecdotal evidence we have been hearing. Here are some main key points from the report:

 

  • 72 percent of MNSure enrollees surveyed said they already had insurance
  • MNSure commercial enrollments missed Democrat projections by 88% (49,000 actual enrollments vs. 413,000 promised in 2013)

  • 58 percent of those surveyed spent at least 4 hours on the enrollment process

  • 75 percent reported having “significant” technical problems

  • In the first 11 months, a third of calls to the call center were dropped

  • Only 28 percent of MNSure enrollees were immediately uninsured prior to enrolling

  • MNSure cannot easily adapt to “life changes” such as birth of children, marriages, etc.

  • Many consumer were not made aware public programs or tax credits that they may have been eligible for

Minnesotans were promised lower costs and a functioning website that would enable them to quickly and easily navigate insurance options and purchase policies. Instead, MNSure has caused headaches and higher costs for many families across Minnesota.

For better or worse, MNSure is a reality here in Minnesota. My colleagues and I in the House have put forward plans to ensure fair access and affordability in health care and increase accountability for MNSure.

I am hopeful that the governor and the legislature are able to come to a bipartisan agreement to address the serious issues still facing MNSure.

Governor’s Cabinet Pay Raises

Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly voted in favor of what’s called a deficiency bill. This bill covers unforeseen costs that occurred over the last year for state agencies such as the Department of Health (to deal with the Ebola epidemic), the Minnesota Zoo, and the DNR.

The bill also addresses the governor’s commissioner pay raises that have recently been in the headlines. As I am sure you remember; the governor recently gave members of his cabinet lavish pay raises. It is estimated that these pay raises would cost the state $1.4 million over the biennium. The cabinet members saw raises ranging from 19%-58% of their previous salary.

The bill takes a step forward in reining in the pay raises the governor issued to agency executives in three specific ways:

 

  • Restore legislative oversight of executive branch pay raises
  • Immediately freeze the salary increases
  • Cut allocations made to state departments based on the commissioner salary increases

I am pleased that the legislature took it upon ourselves to roll back these lavish pay raises and return legislative oversight to the process of increasing commissioner’s raises.

Staying in Touch

I would also like to offer my congratulations to the Faribault Emeralds Dance Team on their Class AAA State High Kick Championship. Job well done! I have extended an invitation to the team to come to the state capitol to be honored for this achievement and am looking forward to meeting with them.

Please encourage your family, friends, or co-workers to sign up for my weekly email updates. They can sign up by visiting my official House page.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss any questions, comments, or concerns you may have regarding the legislature. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at rep.brian.daniels@house.mn. You can also stay connected with me by visiting my Facebook page and my Twitter account.

Sincerely,

Brian

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