House Speaker renews call to scrap MnSure, Move to federal exchange

MnsureMinnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, was in Brainerd yesterday and renewed his call to scrap the state-based health insurance exchange, MnSure, and move to the federal exchange.

Daudt told The Brainerd Dispatch during a visit to the area yesterday, “MNsure, our state exchange, is where we’re seeing a lot of those huge increases in costs.  Potentially we need to look at going on the federal exchange so we don’t have those duplicative costs for the administrative portion of that health coverage….MNsure really has no rate advantage now over the federal exchange, and frankly, by putting our folks in Minnesota into the federal exchange, they’re going to get the same coverage that they have now—potentially even better.”

House Speaker Kurt Daudt

MnSure started its third open enrollment year on November 1.  The Minnesota Department of Commerce anticipates a 49% increase in premium hikes for private individual insurance plans and state officials expect more Minnesotans will be pushed into the government exchange which provides tax credits for some to enroll.

“This is a make-or-break year for MNsure,” Roger Feldman, a health policy researcher at the University of Minnesota, told the Star Tribune last month.

Minnesota is one of only fourteen states which set up their own exchanges.  MnSure has cost Minnesota taxpayers $200 million so far, and only 49,066 had enrolled in an exchange-based private plan by June of this years, despite initial projections of over 400,000 enrollees.  At the end of the 2015 special legislative session, legislators decided to set up a $500,000 commission to study the problems with MnSure and make recommendations.

A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 10 million more Americans have been enrolled in Medicaid under Obamacare, bringing the total to 70 million in the federal Medicaid program.  In Minnesota, the same trend has been seen, shows that there’s been a 17% increase in Medicaid enrollments in the state since 2013, with a total of 1,019,309 Minnesotans enrolled in the program.  This is slightly lower than the 24% national average, due to Minnesota’s other state-funded program, Minnesota Care.

There was a Republican bill last legislative session to move the 95,000 Minnesotans currently covered under Minnesota Care to the MnSure exchange, where they would could purchase a private plan with the help of a premium subsidy.  The plan would have also phased out MnSure and moved to the federal exchange for additional cost savings.  The MnSure exchange will be on the legislative agenda again in 2016.