A special session began at the Capitol this week and we are focused on state agency finance bills that a very small group of legislators put together behind closed doors – out of the sight of the public and most legislators.
Four bills were introduced in the House on Monday and were referred to the Ways and Means Committee, rather than going to the committees normally having jurisdiction over that agency or segment of government.
You may be wondering why, on Thursday, the House spent 14 hours debating a single bill (H.F. 6) which establishes the biennial budget for the Department of Commerce, Public Utilities Commission, and various energy related activities.
That bill bypassed key subject matter committees that allow public input and legislators the opportunity to fully understand and if necessary make adjustments. Those 14 hours of floor debate on Thursday with more to come should have occurred in the subject-matter committees.
One of the key elements missing in H..F 6 is continuation of Minnesota’s health care reinsurance program. When you sent me to the legislature back 2015, health insurance premiums were skyrocketing especially for those self-employed and others that do not get health insurance as part of their employment. That was caused by massive federal intervention in our state health insurance system.
It took us several years to stabilize health insurance costs in Minnesota. We had to gain permission from the federal government to put in place a state program similar to the one that federal intervention had eliminated. Minnesota’s reinsurance program needs to be continued or we will again see huge pikes in health insurance costs to those that are outside of employer provided insurance programs.
That key element is missing and that is why we spent a full day on the House floor debating H.F. 6.
It’s ironic that our current governor, while a member of the US Congress, voted to allow states, Minnesota in particular, to develop and implement their own fixes for health insurance issues, but now seems uninspired to support heading off this predictable train wreck in the health insurance area.
It took bipartisan support to stabilize the health insurance market. Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar was especially supportive in getting things done back in Washington, D.C., to allow states the flexibility to fix this problem. Minnesota’s reinsurance model has been adopted in many other states; it works.
We cannot afford to go backward in this area.