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Union: Republican Plan for Health Care Will Hurt Minnesotans

Gov. Mark Dayton has a plan to help Minnesotans pay for health insurance. (mn.gov)
Gov. Mark Dayton has a plan to help Minnesotans pay for health insurance. (mn.gov)
January 10, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – There's an effort underway in Minnesota to make sure no one loses health insurance while Republicans work to dismantle President Obama's health-care plan.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a premium rebate for about 120,000 Minnesotans who aren't eligible for federal tax credits.

But, the new Republican majority in the state has released its own version of the plan that uses rainy-day funds to help some Minnesotans pay for skyrocketing premiums and calls for reforms, including allowing for-profit HMOs to compete for coverage in Minnesota.

Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, says it mirrors what Republicans in Congress want to do to the Affordable Care Act.

"It's insane for Republicans to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw tens of millions of people off health insurance, raise their prescription drug prices and do away with patient protections without having any alternatives in place," he said.

Democrats have called the Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act "risky and reckless." Republican leaders say it's the first of many steps needed to stabilize the individual insurance market. The legislation is undergoing committee hearings this week, then will be up for a vote in the House.

Seide acknowledges that the health-care system needs to be tweaked, and says he knows who's to blame for out-of-control costs.

"Insurance companies are responsible for double-digit premium increases," he added. "Their profits are bad for our health. The long-term solution is to reform the insurance industry."

Seide says Minnesotans who are worried about their health coverage should act now.

"We ask the citizens: Please call your legislator, particularly the Republicans, and ask them to get on board with Governor Dayton's bill and waste no time, because open enrollment ends on Jan. 31."

Minnesota's health-insurance exchange has had a record number of people enrolling since Nov. 1, the start of the 2017 open-enrollment period.

Veronica Carter/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - MN