Sen. Westrom introduces bill to expand co-op health plans

Legislation expands successful program that allows agriculture cooperatives to form group health plans

Senator Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) introduced legislation to allow electric cooperatives in Minnesota the option to join in cooperative group health plans. The bill follows legislation supported by Senator Westrom and his Republican Senate colleagues in 2017 that established agriculture cooperative health plans. Signed into law by Governor Dayton, the cooperative health plans proved to be highly successful in providing low-cost, high-quality health care for cooperative members.

“The rising cost of health care and insurance has impacted families across our state, especially in Greater Minnesota,” said Senator Westrom, Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance Committee. “By thinking outside the box and allowing agriculture cooperatives to offer group health plans, families were able to secure high-quality, low-cost health care that improved their quality of lives. This bill expands on this highly successful program by allowing cooperatives in sectors outside of agriculture to offer their members similar plans. Through innovative ideas like these, we can continue to lower the cost of health care for all Minnesota families.”

Senator Westrom recently chaired a Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance Committee hearing that highlighted the success of the new cooperative health care program. In Minnesota, there are now two new cooperative insurance options offered by 40 Square Cooperative Solutions and Land O’ Lakes. Officials from Land O’ Lakes testified that their cooperative health care program in Minnesota was so successful that they are now expanding it to members in other states, given recent changes in federal law that allow cooperatives to expand across state lines.

In Minnesota, this program is currently limited to only agri-business related cooperatives. Westrom’s new legislation would expand the option to more cooperative members, such as electrical co-ops, if the respective cooperatives choose to offer this option to members. This would expand health insurance options and competition for Minnesota residents, with the goal of reducing cost and improving quality of care.

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