A bill that would update and clarify language regarding insurance statutes came close to including a provision that would have helped the state potentially create a health insurance exchange as required by the federal health care reform law.
Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to HF1394 that would have created a working group to establish a state health insurance exchange.
House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee Chairman Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) sponsors the bill. The committee voted 12-9 May 4 not to adopt the amendment, then approved the bill and sent it to the House floor. Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) sponsors a companion, SF1045, which awaits action by the full Senate.
“I know that is a politically loaded issue at this point,” Atkins said after introducing the amendment May 3. “This piece simply establishes a marketplace for competitive health care products that consumers can go shopping in and see apples-to-apples comparisons.”
Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) said “Obamacare” is an “abomination, but it’s the law.” He supported the amendment because he’d prefer to create a Minnesota exchange than submit to a federal one.
“I am not a supporter of the federal health care legislation,” Hoppe said. “I think however, this is something, in my opinion, that we should do ourselves rather than have done to us.” States will be evaluated in Jan. 2013 by the federal government to assess their exchange plans. If they’re not deemed ready to roll out by Jan. 1, 2014, the state must participate in a federal exchange.
Rep. Diane Anderson (R-Eagan) said there is already funding through the state’s Health and Human Services Department to design an exchange. Hoppe said the exchange is about insurance, which is the purview of the commerce committee.
Twila Brase, president of the Citizens Council for Health Care Reform, said lawmakers should wait for the results of states’ efforts to overturn the federal law in court, and said there had not been enough notice for public testimony on the amendment.
Hoppe opted for caution, recommending not adopting the amendment but working on the measure separately.
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