Senators Lourey and Hayden: Uncertainty, no long-term solutions for Minnesota health care consumers
State Senators Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) and Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis), ranking members on the Minnesota Senate’s two health care committees, expressed frustration and worry over today’s announcement that 2018 health insurance premiums will continue to increase, despite Republicans funneling more than 543 million of taxpayer dollars to insurance companies to prevent such hikes.
The Republican legislature passed a reinsurance package in April with the hope that insurance companies would use the revenue to keep rates lower in 2018. While the rates announced today are about 20 percent lower than they would be without reinsurance, many consumers purchasing health policies on the individual market will still see double-digit increases next year – and about 100,000 lower-income Minnesotans now face uncertainty of their own insurance program.
“Republicans at the state and federal levels were elected one year ago on a promise to fix health care for all consumers,” Sen. Lourey said. “Today, Minnesota taxpayers have sent a half-billion dollars to insurance companies for a temporary fix and in return, we have received no long-term guarantee that rates will stabilize, no solution to improve options in rural Minnesota, and a new crisis for 100,000 low-income, working Minnesotans who now see the end of their insurance options on the horizon.”
Sen. Lourey said that this comes at a time of significant federal funding insecurity in other arenas of the health care industry adds to the pressure to find a better solution.
“I’m pleased that next year’s rate increases will be slightly lower for some consumers, but we cannot ignore the fact that these are still rate increases, and only about 4 percent of Minnesotans purchasing health insurance on the individual market benefit from Minnesota’s recent investments,” Sen. Lourey said. “In the complete absence of federal action, I call upon Minnesota Republicans to finally come to the table to focus on bipartisan, long-term solutions that will improve access and affordability for all consumers.”
Sen. Hayden expressed particular concern over a last-minute decision by the Trump Administration to deny the state funding for its Basic Health Plan – MinnesotaCare – in exchange for adoption of the reinsurance waiver. The loss of $369 million in federal funding, along with Minnesota Republicans’ irresponsible use of the state’s Health Care Access Fund that otherwise helps fund MinnesotaCare, risks the future of this innovative program that provides a bridge for working families earning too much to qualify for Medical Assistance but too little to afford typical insurance premiums.
“MinnesotaCare is a successful, affordable insurance option that is accessible to lower-income, working Minnesotans across the state,” Sen. Hayden said. “It is astounding that some lawmakers are willing to risk the future of this program. Like their congressional counterparts, Minnesota Republicans have failed to deliver long-term premium relief for Minnesotans on the individual market and to make matters worse, they have jeopardized the future of Minnesota’s innovative, affordable health insurance option that has successfully served working families across our state.”