The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate Wednesday night passed a controversial “reinsurance” bill that would have the state pick up costs of care for the most seriously-ill Minnesotans — which backers say will hold down health insurance premium increases for everyone else. Kerrick Democrat Tony Lourey warns Republicans’ plan “puts another 600 million dollars of public money in the hands of the insurance companies, with zero in the way of promises” — either by lower increases in health insurance premiums or more health insurance policy choices, particularly in Greater Minnesota.
Lourey proposed state-run MinnesotaCare be offered to more Minnesotans. Prior Lake Republican Eric Pratt warned if lawmakers do that, “we will drive the final nail in the coffin of the individual market out in Greater Minnesota.” Ham Lake Republican Michelle Benson adds private options would evaporate. Benson says, “Politicians sometimes get things wrong, and so I would rather trust decisions to be made in large part in the homes of Minnesotans with more choice, in doctors’ offices with more options, and MinnesotaCare’s not gonna get us there.”
Governor Mark Dayton wants guarantees from H-M-Os that everyone else will benefit, if the state pays for the most-expensive medical cases.
The president of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Jim Schowalter, would not speculate whether more insurance companies will leave the market or impose enrollment caps, if the state doesn’t implement a reinsurance program. Schowalter would only say, “Reinsurance is an important step that the state can do to help stabilize and make sure options are available to Minnesotans.” Schowalter adds over the past several years insurers paid hundreds of millions of dollars in medical bills above and beyond premiums that were collected — something he says is not sustainable.
Schowalter acknowledges there’s a perception that the money goes to insurers up front or somehow helps their bottom line, but he says “what it does is it pays for high medical bills and, rather than having to charge everyone else even higher premiums to pay those super-high medical bills, the state and all of us will help shoulder some of that burden.”
Here’s Bill Werner’s interview with Schowalter: