The legislature finally completed its task of delivering a complete state budget on Saturday during a two-day special session, but the most problematic Minnesota state government program wasn’t touched. Reforming MnSure, the state’s Obamacare exchange created by the legislature n 2013, was largely cast aside for debates about universal PreK and waterway buffers.
There was some hope earlier in the session for legislators to work together to address the ongoing problems and spiraling costs with MnSure. Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown stated in March “I don’t think it’s sustainable that long. Frankly we can’t let Minnesotans continue to get hurt by this, and we can’t sit by for another year while more Minnesotans are hurt by it. So it’s time to deal with it, and it’s time to deal with it right now.” But in the end, the way that St. Paul decided to deal with MnSure was to create a new $500,000 29-member politically-appointed committee that will report back to the legislature in January. A similar task-force was launched by Governor Mark Dayton in 2011 to create MnSure.
There were attempts this session by elected officials to address MnSure costs and issues. As Alpha News reported in April, one reform bill from Rep Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, would have combined the 23-year old Minnesota Care program with the MnSure exchange saving taxpayers $900 million, but it had no bipartisan support. Another bill authored by Rep Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, would have allowed consumers direct access to tax subsidies without having to use the MnSure exchange, set salary limits for MnSure employees, and would have required background checks for MnSure navigators. That bill also failed to garner support from across the aisle. Democrats and Governor Dayton worked this session to have MnSure become its own state agency, but Republicans didn’t sign onto that plan.
As the country waits for the results of the King vs Burwell Supreme Court case which will determine whether federal Obamacare exchange subsidies are legal, Minnesota’s state exchange continues to flounder. Some consumers already know they’re in for huge rate increases under MnSure, and the government will have to decide whether to provide higher state-based subsidies, or leave them to pay the higher premiums despite the promises to reduce the cost of healthcare insurance.