Hello from St. Paul,
Recently the Minnesota Department of Commerce alerted residents and families who obtain health insurance through MNsure that they can expect to pay significantly more in premium costs.
According to the department, the average rate increases will range from 14 percent to 49 percent. The highest average rate increase comes from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the state's largest insurer.
This news is extremely troubling. From the very beginning MNsure has been plagued with problems. Minnesota's taxpayers have been forced to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a program designed to make health insurance affordable, yet those who are buying health insurance through MNsure are facing unaffordable rate increases.
What will these changes mean for Minnesotans who purchase health insurance through MNsure? According to the commerce department, it could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars more next year than it does today for premiums depending on a person's age, where they live, and whether they purchase single or family coverage.
During the 2015 Legislative Session, House Republicans passed legislation that would improve transparency and lower rates by increasing health insurance access and competition. Legislative Democrats, however, refused to support larger reforms despite the Dayton administration's fiscal estimate showing tremendous savings for taxpayers.
We have a solution to this expensive problem, but Governor Dayton and many of his Democratic colleagues refuse to admit that their MNsure program is failing hardworking Minnesotans. There's not a lawmaker around who doesn't support affordable health insurance. But some families will now pay thousands of dollars more for premiums next year, which is truly a shame because the problem is fixable.
This week, I also had the pleasure of meeting with staff and students at G-F-W Middle School in Fairfax. Recently, I was contacted by student Cheyenne Fahey asking whether or not I could help middle schoolers obtain iPads.
After telling her I could not help because that spending decision is made by her school, I did encourage her – after receiving the go ahead from her parents and teachers, of course - to start a petition outlining why she thought her idea was reasonable, then to gather signatures from fellow students and adults and eventually present that petition to her school board.
One of Cheyenne's teachers heard about our email conversation and asked if I would be able to visit the middle school and talk with sixth graders who were learning about how a bill becomes law in social studies class.
On Wednesday I made the trip to Fairfax, and what a trip it was! Prior to the sixth grade state government discussion, I was invited to attend the G-F-W Middle School Student of the Month rally where I was able to meet Cheyenne and was presented with a t-shirt promoting the "T-Bird Way" which encourages students to be respectful, responsible, and remarkable.
It was truly impressive to see the entire school, along with parents, grandparents, and other community members gather and recognize those who are prioritizing their local education. Students were engaged, staff and administrators were energized, and the entire event was truly well done.
My thanks to the G-F-W Middle School for the invitation to discuss state government with your students. Meeting with teachers and students is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job as your state representative, and I always look forward to visiting area schools and seeing them in action.
Talk to you soon,