March 14--A plan to spend taxpayer money to try to produce a cheaper, more stable health insurance market is moving forward in the Minnesota Legislature.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted largely on party lines Monday to pass a "reinsurance" proposal, and a similar measure is moving forward in the Senate.
"This is about getting people, your constituents, affordable rates," said Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston. "What you're voting on today is being able to keep an individual market and hopefully to bring prices down."
The 78-53 vote saw four members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party join most Republicans to support the package, with the rest of the DFLers and two Republicans voting no.
Neither the House bill nor the Senate version is likely to become law in its current form. Instead, they'll head to a conference committee where lawmakers will try to get a bill that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton will sign.
Dayton has said he's open to reinsurance, which tries to lower premiums by covering some high-cost medical bills for insurance companies. But he objects to some details in the Republican plans, including their cost.
The Legislature's reinsurance bills spend $200 million to $300 million per year. State agencies estimate that such a package would lower premiums by anywhere from 10 percent to 23 percent, but Democrats said there's no guarantee of that.
"There is absolutely nothing that requires the insurance companies themselves to do anything in exchange for these subsidies," said Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester.
The governor and other DFLers are also strongly pushing another proposed fix to the state's troubled insurance market: letting Minnesotans buy into the state-run MinnesotaCare program.
DFL lawmakers said that would provide proven health care from the decades-old MinnesotaCare program for an affordable price. Republicans said expanding MinnesotaCare would drive private insurers out of business and hurt medical providers with its lower reimbursement rates.
HOW LAWMAKERS VOTED
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