Health Care Relief Bill Provides Cash and Competition

Image Credit: Alpha News MN/Preya Samsundar

St. Paul, MN — Health care relief for Minnesotans is on its way. On Thursday, the House and Senate passed health care relief for thousands of Minnesotans struggling under the rising cost of insurance premiums – largely blamed on the Affordable Care Act.

Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law late Thursday night allocating $326.9 million to help more than 125,00 families across Minnesota. The law will use $285 million from the general fund to cover the cost of the program. [The law also includes the expansion of the current insurance market. For-profit Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) will now have the ability to expand into the Minnesota market. Prior to passing legislation, only non-profit health care companies had access to the Minnesota exchange. As Alpha News MN reported, Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) told reporters during the initial introduction of health care relief “people need choices” and competition in the markets are needed.”

Aid will go to families who currently do not qualify for premium assistance credits. The new law states anyone applying for relief must have a modified adjusted gross income between 300%-800% of the poverty line. According to Families USA, 300% above the poverty line for one person is $35,640.  

While policyholders have until January 31, 2018, to apply for the credit, there are two options for individuals to receive relief. The main option is for health care insurance companies to apply the 25% discount directly to monthly bills and to apply for reimbursements from the State. The second option requires  policyholders to request the credit go directly into their bank accounts. Health insurance companies have until April 30, 2017, to apply the credit to the bill of qualifying members.

Qualifying members will also receive back pay for previous months. According to a report released in October 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services released data showing an increase up to 67% of health insurance premiums.

Governor Dayton expressed concern for the addition of HMO’s in a press release stating ” I am especially concerned that the change to allow foreign and for-profit insurers into the Minnesota market has not been adequately reviewed, and I ask the legislature to seriously re-evaluate this provision when future health care legislation is considered. “

Minnesota’s health care legislation takes effect just as Congress seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act and introduce its own health care alternative.

 

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