Bipartisan Team Announces Bill for State-Based Exchange
[MMA News Now, Jan. 10, 2013] The MMA was encouraged when word came that a bipartisan group of state lawmakers were supporting legislation that would create a state-based health insurance exchange, which is mandated by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
“We appreciate that lawmakers are making the exchange a priority early in the legislative session. In fact, it’s the first bill introduced in the senate,” said Dave Renner, the MMA’s director of state and federal legislation. “It’s especially encouraging to see that it’s a bipartisan team putting it together. The debate now begins as to how it will be funded and who will oversee it.”
The MMA prefers a shared public-private style of governance and advocates that it is funded through either broad-based general revenue or by those entities that most directly benefit from it, Renner noted.
The proposed legislation would establish a state agency governed by a seven-member board including three public members representing consumers, three having expertise in health care and the Human Services commission or her designate. Currently the bill prohibits board members from having any conflict of interest, which is defined as being employed by, a board member of, or representing any health plans, providers, insurance companies or insurance agents.
In addition, the bill suggests funding the exchange through an assessment on the policies that are sold through it.
Gov. Dayton, who has strongly advocated for a Minnesota-based exchange, has asked that lawmakers pass legislation prior to March 31 when the state faces its next exchange-oriented deadline with the federal government.
Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL) is chief author of the bill in the senate; Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL) is the chief author of the house bill. In a show of bipartisanship, Republicans Rep. Jim Abeler, Rep. Greg Davids, and Sen. Julie Rosen, who oppose the ACA in principle, took part in the introductory press conference on Jan. 9. The lawmakers expressed a desire to be part of the process to ensure all views are represented.
According to the ACA, each state must have an online insurance site similar to Travelocity and Expedia up and running by October 2013 so that individuals and small businesses can purchase health insurance. More than 1.2 million Minnesotans are expected to use the exchange, which is about one of every five residents.
Sen. Lourey, who is chair of the committee on Finance, Health and Human Services Division, and Rep. Atkins, who is chair of the House Commerce Committee, are calling their version of the exchange the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace.
Last session, a bill to create a state-based exchange was introduced but did not make it out of a senate committee.
For more information on the exchange, see the MMA’s special issue online.