The Senate passed a bill this week that would give health insurance companies more than $1 billion in taxpayer dollars as an incentive to hold health care premiums stable next year. The program is called reinsurance and was first passed in 2017 as a temporary solution to help stabilize the market after the Affordable Care Act transition. Five years and $1 billion later, Republicans are once again asking for another $1 billion commitment to keep the program running through 2027.
There is bipartisan acknowledgment that the program may help avoid large premium increases. Still, Senate DFLers raised concerns about spending $1 billion on insurance companies while doing nothing to address the actual cost of health care or improve health outcomes. Senate DFLers offered an amendment to send tax credits directly to consumers whose premiums were high relative to their income, but Republicans refused to allow a vote.
Senate DFLers also criticized the fact that the first two funding bills passed off the Senate floor in 2022 have benefitted businesses and insurance companies. When DFLers tried to move an urgency to send $1 billion to 667,000 frontline workers and make good on a promise made last June to thank them for their work during the pandemic, Republicans refused. This week, they had no problem writing a $1 billion check to insurers.
Senate DFLers are prepared to continue working with other leaders to find a more reasonable path forward for reinsurance and meaningful health care cost reforms that benefit consumers, not the industry. (SF 3472)