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Minnesota’s reinsurance program helps calm health care rates

Premiums have stabilized in the individual market, thanks to a $542 million subsidy, but legislators still have more work to do. This op-ed originally appeared in the Star Tribune on August 4, 2017 This week, Minnesotans subject to three years of spiking health insurance premiums on the individual market got their first bit of good news. Rates won’t be spiking again in 2018, according to preliminary health insurance rate information released by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Proposed average changes range from a 14.5 percent reduction to an 11.4 percent increase across the four major health plans. Every plan projects that at least...

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Strong growth in physicians licensed in Minnesota

The Federation of State Medical Boards released their latest biennial report on the number of doctors licensed to practice medicine in American in 2016.  Assuming having more doctors is a good thing, then Minnesota is doing better. The number of doctors licensed in Minnesota increased from 20,174 in 2012 to 23,494 in 2016.  This represents a 16.5 percent increase, a substantial jump in just four years.  This was the eleventh highest rate of change in the country.  States with stronger growth are all either Mountain states (Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah) or strung down the east coast (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, D.C.,...

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Efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare still moving forward after Senate meets with Trump

Earlier this week, the media quickly declared that congressional efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare had collapsed. We've previously heard reports declaring repeal efforts dead back in March when Speaker Paul Ryan found he didn’t yet have the votes to pass a bill.  Yet Ryan eventually brought enough Republicans together. I remain optimistic that Republicans will eventually come together and finally deliver on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.  That’s because I’ve always thought it would be impossible for Republicans to ignore the severe upheaval happening in individual health insurance markets across the country, all a result of Obamacare.  The...

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Insurance choices dwindling in counties across America

Yesterday I noted news released this week from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that shows only half the insurers that offered coverage on Obamacare exchanges in 2016 plan to participate in 2018.  That's a dramatic drop in choice for consumers in just two short years. CMS also released an updated map this week depicting the number of health insurer carrier choices available in each county.  The yellow portions in the map below represents the 1,334 counties in America—42.47 percent of all counties—in which people have only one carrier option, meaning they they have no choice. For some counties, the problem...

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Number of Insurers Offering Coverage through Obamacare Exchanges Drops in Half

On Monday the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that only 141 health insurers filed applications to offer health plans through the federal Obamacare exchanges in 2018.  As the graph below shows, that's half as many insurers submitting applications as in 2016. Here's how Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price explained the depth of the problem: The situation has never been more dire. Americans are continuing to lose what health coverage they have and are forced to choose from fewer options or pay the IRS for the right to go without. This further limits their access to the doctors...

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7 Women, $7 Million: MN’s Latest Medicaid Fraud

An alleged ringleader and her six recruits have been charged with supposedly bamboozling $7.7 million from Medicaid. According to the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office charged seven women for allegedly stealing the money while running personal care attendant (PCA) agencies in Hennepin County. The PCA program is meant to empower disabled Minnesotans to receive care at home and stay out of institutions by hiring help. It is disheartening a group of women would abuse this wonderful program and undermine personal care assistance....

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Reporters ignore counterpoints to Dayton’s claims about funding losses from GOP health care bills

Gov. Mark Dayton hosted a news conference with Rep. Keith Ellison and several other DFL state legislators on Wednesday to highlight the results of a new state analysis on how the Senate health care bill would impact Minnesotans on Medicaid. As expected, the Dayton administration’s analysis offered a sharp critique of the Senate Republican’s health care bill.  The analysis projects Minnesota would lose $2 billion in federal funding in the first 18 months, $10.4 billion over five years, and $31 billion over ten years.  In 2025, a majority of this spending cut, according to the analysis, will come from spending on...

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Give states more revenue options to fund insurance market stabilization programs

With individual health insurance markets melting down across the country, both the House and Senate health care bills include funding to states to help stabilize their insurance markets.  This funding would primarily go to support programs like high risk pools or reinsurance to cover the cost of people with expensive health conditions, which, in turn, would keep premiums down for everyone else. To continue to receive funding, both the House and the Senate bills require states to start matching a percentage of federal funding.  State’s may also find they need to kick more money in to keep markets stable and affordable....

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Legislature’s Special Session Wrap-Up: Estate Tax, Healthcare & More

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Legislature ended its special session early Friday morning. Here's the rest of what was decided. Minnesotans On the Move How to keep Minnesotans from exiting the state for good, or severing all financial ties with the state after establishing residency elsewhere? Estate tax: The death tax was not repealed but the threshold will be gradually increased from the current $1.8 million to $3 million by 2020. The federal level is $5.49 million per person. Dayton's Department of Revenue has gained a reputation for being aggressive with Minnesotans who declare residency elsewhere (the state tries to claw them...

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