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State Senate approves Health Insurance Exchange Bill

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The Minnesota State Senate recently passed the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act, better known as the health insurance exchange.

Right now Minnesotans have access to among the highest quality and lowest cost of health care in the nation. We rank fourth in the nation in insurance coverage and even though we are nation-leading, Minnesotans are about to experience a sharp increase in healthcare costs and a decrease in choices.

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As part of the federal healthcare reform legislation (Affordable Care Act) each state was tasked with setting up an Internet portal known as an exchange, for the purpose of purchasing health insurance. Small businesses with up to 100 employees or those without coverage can purchase health coverage in the exchange. It is expected about 25 percent of Minnesotans will use the exchange once it’s created.

“While I have many concerns with this bill, my main concern is the unknown costs associated with it. The exchange is designed to lower healthcare costs, but instead it’s estimated this bill will actually increase costs by more than 29 percent,” said Senator Carrie Ruud- Breezy Point.

The new exchange itself is expected to cost $332 million from 2011 to 2016.

“My other major concern with this bill is the unelected seven-member governing board that has complete control of the exchange, including establishing health insurance premium rates and choosing the companies allowed to participate, with little or no accountability. Allowing this unelected board so much control limits competition and choice, the exact opposite of its goal. I believe any plan that meets existing state and federal certification should be allowed to participate in the exchange,” Ruud concluded.

Gazelka voiced similar concerns, “I voted no on the DFL driven Minnesota exchange. In the end it’s going to end up driving up costs of health insurance premiums in Minnesota we estimate anywhere from 30-50 percent, so it’s going to be a huge increase. The way it’s set up, in the end, will limit options for the consumer. The health insurance companies that provide many, many jobs in Minnesota are all very concerned about the fact that they may or may not be able to participate. So, in the end it’s called the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, but it’s not affordable for Minnesotans so I’m very concerned about this bill as it moves forward and I was a clear No on this vote.”

Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange passed through the Senate on a 37 to 28 vote. Before moving to the governor for his signature, the House of Representatives and Senate are required to resolve the difference between their versions of the legislation with a conference committee.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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