Republicans unveil 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act
Republican leaders held a press conference Thursday to unveil details of House and Senate File 1, the 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act, aimed at delivering premium relief for Minnesotans devastated by skyrocketing Obamacare premiums, and key reforms that represent the first step toward stabilizing Minnesota’s individual insurance market. House File 1 is chief authored by Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, Chair of the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee. Senate File 1 is chief authored by Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.
“Minnesotans put their trust in Republicans to clean up the health care crisis created by Democrats,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “The 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act will deliver critical premium relief to Minnesotans, and ensure continued access to those who need to continue life-saving treatments this year.”
“This represents the first of many steps necessary to stabilize the individual insurance market that’s been brought to the brink of collapse by Democrats’ embrace of Obamacare,” said Senator Benson.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues and the governor to begin addressing this crisis,” said Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska. “The 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act will deliver critical premium relief to Minnesotans, and ensure continued access to those who need to continue life-saving treatments this year.”
The 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act is comprised of three key parts: premium relief, ensuring continued access to doctors, and individual market reforms.
The bill would provide $300 million in premium relief to help reduce premiums for Minnesotans on the individual market. For the first three months, all eligible individuals would qualify for a 25% premium reduction. For the remainder of 2017, premium reductions would be limited to only those making less than 800% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)—Individuals who exceed that threshold ($95,040 per year for an individual, $194,400 for a family of four) would not qualify for premium assistance. Premium relief would be administered on a monthly basis by the Minnesota Management and Budget Office in order to determine income eligibility.
The reform portion of the bill includes several provisions aimed at addressing access, competition, and transparency. To ensure continued access to care in 2017, $15 million of the $300 million appropriation would cover the cost of continuing care for patients currently engaged in a course of treatment. Eligible conditions include: acute conditions, life-threatening mental or physical illnesses, pregnancies beyond the first trimester, and special provisions for those who are in their last six months of life.
Other key provisions include ending surprise billing, conforming with federal law to allow small businesses to offer a direct contribution toward health insurance premiums, allowing for-profit HMO’s to enter the individual market, reducing stop-loss attachment points to make it easier for small businesses to offer affordable insurance plans, and earlier disclosure of filed rates to give the public additional time to react to future insurance rates.
The 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act is expected to be passed and enter the conference committee process for public negotiations with the Governor and his administration within the next two weeks.