Dayton Pushing for Special Session on Healthcare, Says GOP Plan Not Possible

MN Governor Advocates for Using Projected Surplus to Fund Relief for Insurance Hikes

St. Paul, MN – After tabling discussions until the end of the election season, lawmakers are reigniting talks over a potential special session to solve some of the state’s biggest issues, particularly rising health care costs.

On Monday Republican Representatives Greg Davids (28B), Tara Mack (57A), Joe Hoppe (47B), and Matt Dean (38B) sent a letter to Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) laying out their ideas to address Minnesota’s health care issues.  Republicans proposed several ideas including immediate fixes like a one-month, 20% premium cut for policies purchased without an advanced premium tax credit in the individual market, as well as targeted financial assistance programs to help with the cost of premiums, deductibles, and in-network/out-of-network costs.

The Republican plan also includes long-term fixes to stabilize the insurance market by “increasing certainty and affordability for consumers, eliminating unnecessary costs to the state, and restoring market stability.” Proposals to achieve this include requiring the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Health to “draft a transition plan from MNsure to a federal-state partnership exchange,” and by allowing for-profit HMOs to participate in the individual market.

“We can do better for Minnesotans” the Republicans penned in their letter, “Our goal from the onset has been to address both cost and choice issues for families here.”

Dayton responded in a letter Wednesday saying there are several errors with the Republican proposal. Dayton claims the Republican proposal would, “provide only 7% of the financial relief that Minnesotans would receive next year” under his plan.

Dayton’s proposal would give a 25% rebate to all Minnesotans who bought their insurance on the individual exchange, regardless of their income level.  The Star Tribune reports Dayton’s plan would cost the state more than $300 million, which Dayton proposed to fund using the expected surplus.  

Dayton also claims that the funding proposal Republicans provided is not possible, stating, “Finally, regarding the request by your Caucus for federal money to pay for this program, I have received a verbal response from the Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that it is not viable under federal requirements.” 

Dayton questions the motives of the Republican lawmakers, stating, “Continuing to throw out other undeveloped and unvetted possibilities, appears to me to be a pretext for not taking action. If that is truly your intention, then say so, and we can all postpone further consideration of your ideas and numerous others until next year.”

Director of Senate Media Services Steve Senyk tweeted “When asked the likelihood of a special session to address health care premiums in individual market, Dayton responded. ‘Got a coin?’”

Dayton says he is sending staff to meet with lawmakers to determine whether or not action will be taken at 4:00 PM on Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Julia Erynn