On Monday, March 1, 2021, Senate Republicans brought a bill extending Minnesota’s “reinsurance” plan to the Senate floor. The reinsurance program subsidizes non-profit healthcare insurance providers, including $106 million in state funds and $77 million in federal pass-through funding with the goal of lowering insurance premiums on the individual marketplace. In addition, the reinsurance program also costs the state of Minnesota an estimated $100 million in federal funding for MinnesotaCare.
Senator Lindsey Port (DFL- Burnsville) offered an amendment to prevent insurers who accept taxpayer subsidies under the reinsurance program from paying their executives more than $400,000 per year. Senate Republicans voted down this amendment on a germaneness vote- ruling that the amendment was not relevant to the bill being considered.
“We’ve seen as we’ve spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on this subsidy for insurance companies—we’ve seen CEO salaries go up, for Health Partners 17% in the last year, for BlueCross BlueShield 37% from the previous year, Medica 14% and UCare 22%. And so, I think if we are going to continue to spend taxpayer dollars, we should be willing to have oversight on where those funds are going,” said Senator Lindsey Port. “This vote is a procedural dodge that upholds the rights of health insurers to pay their CEOs millions of dollars per year while continually coming to the legislature for help paying claims- this is why a state budget is a moral document, and not simply a fiscal one.”
After Senate Republicans blocked Senator Port’s amendment, DFL members Senator Omar Fateh, (DFL-Minneapolis, Senator John Marty (DFL- Roseville), Senator Jen McEwen (DFL- Duluth), and Senator Lindsey Port (DFL- Burnsville) voted no on SF 694 and released the following joint statement:
“For most Minnesotans who can afford insurance, the cost of healthcare is a significant burden on economic security and quality of life. Their premiums are too high. Many have insurance plans with extremely high deductibles, and their out-of-pocket expenses prevent them from getting the healthcare they need. Many others cannot afford healthcare coverage at all. They face catastrophic consequences including medical bankruptcy and denial of care should they become seriously injured or sick.
In America, we pay twice as much on healthcare per capita than our industrialized peers for similar or worse healthcare outcomes. The reinsurance program does not address the underlying cost of healthcare. It mitigates the cost of claims to the insurers by offloading those costs to the state. We can debate whether this is the best way to mitigate increases to healthcare premiums, but we should all agree that any insurance company who accepts taxpayer-funded subsidies from the state of Minnesota should not be paying their top executives millions of dollars while so many struggle to afford basic care.”