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Governor signs insurance premium relief into law

House Photography file photo
House Photography file photo

Gov. Mark Dayton has signed into law a legislative package intended to provide relief for Minnesotans with rising insurance premiums.

Dayton signed HF1/SF1*, sponsored by Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) and Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), on Thursday evening after both the Senate and the House passed the bill earlier in the day by wide margins. The Senate voted 47-19 and the House 108-19.

The law, effective Jan. 27, 2017, requires health carriers to subsidize qualifying customers’ premiums then seek a reimbursement from the state. It calls for pulling $326.9 million out of the state’s budget reserves and assigning up to $311.9 million of that for the premium relief.

The remaining $15 million covers transition care for people with new health plans but are continuing treatment for serious conditions, life-threatening mental or physical illnesses and pregnancy beyond the first trimester.

Providers are required to apply the discounts to customers’ bills by April 30, 2017.

Included in the relief package are a number of reforms, like allowing for-profit HMOs to join the state-run individual marketplace once controlled only by non-profits.

WATCH Full video of Thursday's House Floor debate of the conference committee report

The governor disagreed with the for-profit HMO provision but had said liked the package as a whole.

“The Legislature and I must now turn our attention to making good health care coverage available and affordable for all Minnesotans,” Dayton said in a statement. “As I said the other night, ‘If we all give a little, Minnesotans will gain a lot.’ That spirit prevailed in negotiating this legislation. May it continue.”

The law also paves the way for agricultural cooperative health plans to provide insurance to farmers and agribusiness employees. It also allows hospitals and clinics to use administrative law judges to challenge the way insurance providers select their network.

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