Democrats say Minnesotans will not get help anytime soon from a bill the Republican-controlled state Senate passed Thursday for aid to those facing big premium increases for health insurance. Kerrick Senator Tony Lourey says complicated reforms and income-testing will delay relief when “in three days, people need to make their choice, if they want insurance that is effective for February of 2017.” Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka from Nisswa says lawmakers must take the first steps toward reforming a broken health insurance system. Gazelka says, “We don’t want to miss this opportunity, because if we don’t do this one, it’s not the only train — but if you stop the first train, how are we gonna get anywhere?”
Gazelka says Democrats need to embrace “at least some” of the reforms Republicans want. “I have met with the governor a number of times,” he says, “and I am building a relationship that we can have a handshake and say, I believe you about where we need to go.” Democrats say, get immediate help to Minnesotans hit with big health insurance premium increases, then deal with complicated reforms later in the session. The Republican-controlled Minnesota House will likely pass its bill next week, followed by negotiations with Governor Mark Dayton. How soon the two sides can reach agreement remains to be seen.
Democrat Lourey, from Thursday’s Senate floor debate:
Republican Majority Leader Gazelka: