Sen. Cwodzinski troubled by failure to offer immediate premium relief
Senator Cwodzinski STATEMENT:
“I am disappointed that the Governor and Senate DFL bill to offer immediate health insurance premium relief failed to move forward today. In its place, the bill passed by the Senate today is cumbersome, bureaucratic, but most importantly won’t offer any financial relief to struggling Minnesotans until 2018. Additionally, to add insult to injury, this “relief” money, arriving late, will also be taxed. Minnesotans are relying on us to offer meaningful relief as quickly as possible – and today they were let down.”
Governor Dayton and Sen. Lourey’s proposal would rush immediate relief to Minnesotans, reducing health insurance premiums by 25 percent for 125,000 Minnesotans who buy their insurance through the individual market. The plan would reduce the average premium increase facing Minnesotans in the individual market from 55 percent to 16 percent, and some families could save as much as $594 per month on their premiums. The Governor’s premium rebate proposal is targeted to help families who are not eligible for federal advanced premium tax credits and whose income is above $47,520 for an individual and $97,200 for a family of four. If implemented now, Minnesotans would see relief on their premium statements in March and discounted rates would be retroactive to January 1, 2017.
BACKGROUND/GOP RELIEF PLAN:
Proposal: The bill passed today, on January 12 makes a one-time appropriation of $300 million from the state’s budget reserve to help reduce premiums in 2017 for Minnesotans with incomes from 300% to 800% of Federal Poverty Guidelines who purchase their insurance on the individual market. ($35,640 to $95,040 for an individual and $72,900 to $194,400 for a family of four).
- For the first three months, all eligible individuals would receive a 25% premium reduction. For the remainder of 2017, premium reductions would be based on income with some individuals receiving up to a 30% premium reduction.
- The premium relief would be administered by the Department of Management and Budget (MMB) on a monthly basis. The bill appropriates $500,000 of the $300 million to the legislative auditor to conduct an audit of the premium assistance program by June 1, 2018.
This proposal also includes reforms, many of which have not been vetted until this week. While reforms are certainly important to pursue, relief for 2017 is the most important issue at hand.
- Additional reforms should be considered carefully, receive public input, and not jeopardize the financial futures of Minnesotans and the state.
- The plan proposed by Republicans does not work. They are proposing building an entirely new bureaucracy, which means more red tape for Minnesotans. Most importantly it would delay premium relief until 2018 at the earliest.