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House Aims to Stem Health Insurance Rate Hikes, Stabilize Market

March 13, 2017 07:53 PM

Minnesota Republicans are preparing to plow nearly $400 million every two years into a new state program meant to reduce health insurance premiums next year.

House Republicans on Monday evening approved a 'reinsurance' bill that would do just that by a 77-53 vote.

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Minnesota has grappled with some of the largest rate increases in the nation. Premiums jumped by as much as 67 percent for shoppers buying insurance on their own this year, leading lawmakers to use $312 million in budget reserves to buy down monthly rates for 2017.

Now, House Republicans want to put in place a reinsurance plan giving hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to health insurance companies to encourage them to offer lower insurance premiums to Minnesotans.

"It's a bill that will take pressure off insurance companies and hopefully get more of them in the market," said Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, adding it's aimed at "getting a market stabilized for 2018."

RELATED: Dayton Budget Proposal Offers Health Insurance Premium Relief for Some Minnesotans

The reinsurance program would help cover insurers' unexpected losses from high health care costs for 2018. Alaska created a similar program last year.

Some Democrats say it's far too much money. Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative Democrats instead propose creating a public option to buy into the low-income health care program MinnesotaCare.

"A proven program that has existed for over 25 years, served hundreds of thousands of people in every corner of Minnesota," Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, said during the House floor debate.

The Minnesota Senate will take up its version of the reinsurance bill Wednesday.

RELATED: Federal Help Triples in Minnesota as Health Premiums Jump

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Credits

Tom Hauser

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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