ST. PAUL – House Republicans are sounding the alarm over a looming health insurance crisis following Friday’s news that final MNsure rates will rise 50 percent or more for 2017.
The latest rate increases are on top of hikes of up to 17 percent and 49 percent in the first two years of MNsure premium pricing adjustments. More than 75 percent of people who buy health insurance on their own do not receive any financial assistance from MNsure, undermining MNsure's claims that tax credits will offset massive rate increases.
“It is extremely disappointing MNsure is still failing to meet its most basic objectives of providing easy access to affordable health insurance,” said Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin. “This program has now been up and running for going on four years, long past the time when you could chalk it up to growing pains. In fact, things have only gotten worse, with even fewer choices as insurance companies continue withdrawing from participation in MNsure.”
It also was announced Friday that the Minnesota Department of Commerce has approved enrollment caps that will limit Minnesotans' access to federal financial assistance and ability to find health care coverage.
Enrollment caps limit the number of new enrollees for certain insurers who sell insurance on the individual market. Due to MNsure’s inability to accurately process applications in a timely manner, Minnesotans who attempt to enroll through MNsure could be left without coverage through no fault of their own. Those who enroll directly with an insurer typically receive confirmation of coverage immediately.
Earlier this year, Democrats proposed hiking the MNsure Tax by $40 million and raising health care costs by $1 billion through permanently restoring the sick tax. Meantime, House Republicans proposed legislation to reduce the MNsure Tax which would have saved families at least $22 million over the next three years. The measure passed the House during the 2016 session, but was vocally opposed by DFL legislators.
“If the MNsure advocates are honest with themselves – and the public – they will acknowledge this system is failing miserably and join efforts to make dramatic changes that, so far, they have obstructed at every turn,” Lueck said. “Meantime, Minnesotans deserve answers as to why Democrats have been blocking solutions for expanding choices, reducing costs and making MNsure a better system.”
Lueck and numerous fellow Republicans sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton demanding action on a law signed by him in 2015 requiring the Department of Commerce to seek a waiver that would allow Minnesotans to access tax credits off of the MNsure exchange.