Reinsurance program continues to move through committee process

Minnesota passed a program in 2017 that aimed to lower the cost of health care premiums for plans offered on the individual health insurance market. The bill allocated $542 million to insurance companies to help mitigate the risk of high-cost claims. It was a two-year program that expires this year.

The legislature now must decide whether to reauthorize the program. The Senate Health and Human Services Policy and Finance Committee heard a bill this week that would allow the program to continue through 2022, using already allocated funds that remain unspent since the 2017 authorization.

The program was part of many factors that did lower the average cost of premiums on the individual market in 2018 and 2019; however, it also came with problems. The federal government reduced the amount of money sent to Minnesota for other health care programs by more than $200 million after approving the reinsurance program, and it unexpectedly cut another $100 million in funding last December. An amendment offered in committee that would only allow the program to continue if Minnesota is able to stop losing funds from the federal government for MinnesotaCare failed on a party line voice vote.

Beyond federal funding issues, many DFLers are concerned that this plan sent more than a half-billion dollars in state money to insurance companies but did nothing for direct consumer premium relief or to achieve long-term, sustained rate reductions.

All lawmakers are focused on preventing premium increases next year, and reinsurance will be part of the conversation as the legislature seeks solutions. Senate DFLers will continue pushing long-term solutions that address the root challenges facing the health care market and will deliver savings directly to consumers.  

The bill was recommended to pass on a party line vote and will be heard next in Finance Committee. (SF 761)

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