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Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange Passes Senate

"I have been outspoken about my opposition of the Affordable Care Act from the beginning, and I did not vote for the bill," Rep. Andrea Kieffer said in her weekly newsletter.

Late Thursday night, the Minnesota State Senate passed the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange

Part of the Affordable Care Act, House File 1, asks each state to set up an internet portal, known as an exchange, to help individuals purchase health insurance.

Small businesses with up to 100 employees or those without coverage can purchase health coverage in the exchange. In states that have decided not to organize their own exchange, the federal government will establish one for them. 

In her weekly newsletter, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Woodbury Republican, said the plan at this point is to begin enrolling consumers in October, and assistants will help citizens navigate the online options to purchase insurance.

"I have been outspoken about my opposition of the Affordable Care Act from the beginning, and I did not vote for the bill," Kieffer wrote in her newsletter. "This exchange will require millions of dollars to operate and includes a 3.5 percent tax (that you will pay) that is supposed to offset some of the cost. Furthermore, it limits choice in care and has questionable data privacy policies. Some states have flat out refused to create an exchange, but our Governor has been moving forward with a state-run plan since last session."

One-quarter of all Minnesotans are expected to use the exchange. The new exchange itself is expected to cost $332 million from 2011 to 2016.

“By establishing our own exchange, we can do what best for Minnesotans. We have to ensure that those who use the exchange have affordable and accessible healthcare,” Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point) said. “Unfortunately, the legislation we passed today doesn’t guarantee better healthcare or lower insurance premiums. Even after passing this bill, which will completely overhaul the healthcare system in our state, we still don’t have answers to the most basic questions Minnesotans are asking: Will it cost me more? Will I keep my doctor? Will it be ready and accountable?”

Thursday’s Senate vote (37-28) concluded 12 hours of floor debate and the consideration of nearly 40 amendments. Differences between the Senate-approved plan and the House proposal will be resolved in conference committee.

Among the different approaches, the Senate proposal funds the exchange through tobacco taxes, which are currently directed to the general fund. The House plan imposes a health premium surcharge. 

“The exchange is extremely expensive and puts layers of bureaucracy between Minnesotans and their healthcare,” Housley said. “It limits choices in health insurance coverage and drives up costs with new coverage mandates. Minnesota’s healthcare exchange should be governed in a way that protects and empowers those participating to make their own choices.”

 

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Beth-Ann Bloom March 09, 2013 at 07:00 PM
When Rep Kieffer was part of the majority, she refused to work to implement the Health Insurance Exchange. Now the voters have spoken and and elected leaders who will see to the needs of a broader range of constituents. Time for her to stop whining and start working with the majority to bring access to insurance to more Minnesotans.
HHF34 March 09, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Lest ye forget, she was reelected and DOES serve us well!!! Including voting against the exchange which takes our rights as Minnesotans to make our own healthcare choices away and increases our costs.
Simon D March 10, 2013 at 12:44 PM
HHF34, how does the creation of an exchange take our rights away? Anyone who doesn't wish to use the exchange to obtain health coverage can certainly shop around themselves for their coverage, or continue their existing coverage. The creation of this online exchange is simply the creation of an open market to shop around for insurance coverage, including out of state providers we currently do not have access to. Of course, the creation of this marketplace, as Rep. Kieffer points out, does not guarantee better coverage or less expensive insurance. Naturally, the gov't is not mandating what insurance coverage is available at what price. Thats up to the insurance companies. It is assumed, though, that because of the open marketplace, companies will need to offer competitive rates for coverage in order to be chosen by consumers. Additionally, if MN doesn't create this marketplace, the Federal Government will do it for us. So please tell me how our rights are being taken away by the States creation of a healthcare exchange that gives access to more insurance companies that cannot reject customers based on medical history.
Joyce March 10, 2013 at 04:44 PM
HHF34, does shopping for airline tickets online, where you can compare prices and the number of stopovers, take away your rights to make your own choices regarding which airline to fly? That is the best analogy for the insurance exchange - you'll be able to compare coverage and prices online before you buy insurance, the way you can compare prices and amenities online before you buy airline tickets. Would NOT being able to compare coverage and prices before you buy be better?

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