ST. PAUL, MN — Republicans from the House and Senate came together Thursday to announce the Healthcare Emergency Aid and Access Act.
The healthcare bill is just the beginning according to Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), the author of SF 1. The plan as written would offer premium relief – with aid going to people who have insurance but do not receive a premium credit through the exchange. Relief would come immediately as individuals who receive premium relief could opt to receive direct deposits from the State.
Other forms of help would include bringing relief to those with acute healthcare conditions and provide options for small business owners and employers. There would also be provisions in the bill for surprise billing.
The bill provides options for many including employers by opening the Minnesota market to for-profit healthcare insurance companies. Currently, only health maintenance organizations (HMO) are allowed to offer their services in Minnesota. “People need choices” and competition in the markets are needed, said Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).
Newly elected Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) emphasized the urgency members of the Legislature feel when it comes to passing this bill.
Governor Dayton is on board for the bill’s current path to head to conference committee. House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) met with Gazelka and Dayton on Tuesday. While Dayton has not agreed with everything in the bill, Daudt explained the desire to have Dayton’s input in the process. Daudt even went on to note that Republicans were trying to meet Dayton on some of his demands by using funds from the reserve. “We hope he appreciates it,” Daudt expressed.
Gazelka and Benson articulated the different steps the House and Senate would take noting that the House would most likely move at a faster pace than the Senate. Gazelka disclosed the Senate’s intentions to have a couple of hearings in commerce and health. The House and Senate hope to be done in two weeks.
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