Reinsurance deal a mixed bag

Both the House and Senate reached agreement on a “reinsurance” bill this week – a $716 million plan to extend the program first authorized in 2017 for five additional years. That cost is about half as much as what Senate Republicans initially wanted to send insurance companies, and the final agreement includes two health care reform policies that DFLers insisted upon adding.

The first requires private health plans to cover postnatal visits at three weeks after delivery, 12 weeks after delivery, and any additional visits between those dates. The concept came from the House Select Committee on Racial Equity as a way to improve maternal health outcomes in communities of color. The other addition requires health insurers to offer plans in each geographic area that have a pre-deductible, flat-dollar copay structure for prescription drugs to allow consumers to spread the costs over 12 months. This will be a particularly helpful tool for enrollees with high deductibles and prescription drug costs.

While these two policies are a step in the right direction, DFLers argued there is still much more to be done to stabilize health care costs, improve the quality of care, and drive better patient health outcomes. This deal still represents $716 million in taxpayer dollars sent directly to insurance companies – not consumers – to buy down premiums but does nothing to lower the cost of health care that is burdening so many consumers to begin with. To-date, Minnesota will have spent more than $1.2 billion on this program and lost another $500 million in federal funding. During the five years reinsurance has existed, Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked DFL efforts to offer real, permanent solutions to improve health care for Minnesotans. (SF 3472)

Senate DFL Media