Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here is an update with the latest news from Saint Paul.
Premium Relief and Health Care Reform Bill Signed into Law
Last week on Thursday, the House and Senate both passed the compromise health care premium relief and reform bill, Senate File 1, which was signed into law by the governor. This legislation allocates more than $300 million from the budget reserves which will provide a 25 percent premium reduction to more than 125,000 Minnesotans for 2017. To qualify, you must have purchased insurance on the individual market and be ineligible for MNsure tax credits. Refunds will be distributed through insurance companies, and people should start receiving rebates in 8-12 weeks.
In addition to critical premium relief, reforms in the bill were included as first-steps to address our failing individual market. Reforms signed into law include allowing for-profit HMOs to operate in Minnesota which will increase competition; ending surprise billing to protect consumers; simplifying the path for Agriculture Co-ops to help farmers and their families get better access to affordable coverage; and funding continuity of care coverage for up to 120 days for folks with certain medical conditions losing access to their doctor.
People in our community and across the state wanted to see the legislature get this passed right away this session, and I am pleased we were able to keep our promise to Minnesotans and get this bill signed into law. Moreover, I hope this is indicative of more bipartisan compromise to come on needed health care and insurance reforms that we will look to pass later this session.
Also last week, Governor Dayton released his budget proposal for the next two years which includes an almost ten percent spending increase over last biennium, as well as significant tax increases. In all, his plan includes $1.6 billion in higher taxes and fees, and just $188 million in tax relief. With our state facing a significant $1.4 billion surplus, legislators will be crafting a larger, more comprehensive tax bill that returns money to families, seniors, college graduates, small businesses and taxpayers later this session.
Additionally, House Republicans will also put together their full budget after the February forecast is released. Along with a large tax relief bill, I expect our plan will invest in our shared priorities and limit state government growth. I will share more details about budget bills as they are crafted and passed later this session.
Also, I know many folks saw the news about Governor Dayton’s health last week. I hope you will join me in sending prayers and well wishes to him and his family.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family on a matter of state government. I am here to serve you!
Have a wonderful weekend.