Senator Cwodzinski STATEMENT:
“More than 125,000 Minnesotans are in dire need of premium relief, and today the Senate came together to help,” Sen. Steve Cwodzinski (DFL-Eden Prairie) said. “Our state is only as healthy as its citizens, and after hearing all summer about the gridlock in Washington, I knew it was time to step up. Dragging our feet, drawing lines in the sand, and digging in our heels will only serve to hold our state back. We were not fist bumping or high fiving today, but we were shaking hands in the spirit of compromise. In this age of divided government, our state is bucking that trend and moving in the right direction.”
The bill passed by the Senate today is an agreement between Republicans and Democrats to invest $312 million in 25 percent across-the-board subsidies for Minnesotans who purchase their insurance on the individual market and who do not receive federal tax credits. Under the plan, the state reimburses health insurance plans, who would provide the relief to individuals.
Republicans initially wanted an income-based assistance program with the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget to cut the checks, but that would have delayed relief until 2018. After pushback from Dayton and Senate Democrats, Conferees decided the DFL plan would deliver relief faster to Minnesotans. People who purchase their health insurance through the individual market and are eligible for the subsidy, should expect to see relief on their premium bills by April or May and will receive retroactive payment for full premiums paid dating back to January 2017.
The bill also includes several health insurance market reforms. One reform troubling many DFLers remains: opening up the nonprofit-dominated individual marketplace to for-profit HMOs. This could have significant impacts for rural and smaller hospitals and medical providers. For-profit HMOs exist to make a profit for their shareholders; providing the best medical care is a secondary interest.