Committee Completes Work, Exchange Bill Goes to Floor
[MMA News Now, March 14, 2013] The conference committee tasked with hammering out the differences between the House and Senate versions of legislation that will create a Minnesota-based health insurance exchange completed its work and sent a bill forward. The House was scheduled to take up the bill on March 14 with the Senate likely to follow early next week.
Over three days, the 10-person committee debated the make-up of the exchange’s governance board, funding mechanisms and how plans will be allowed in the exchange.
The group removed the restriction that would prohibit health care providers from sitting on the governance board. The one caveat is that a provider must be employed or affiliated with an academic institution.
The committee also agreed upon the House’s version for financing – a premium withhold on insurers. The compromise sets the withhold at 1.5 percent until 2015. Then, after that, it would be up to 3.5 percent.
Additionally, the committee agreed to allow all plans to participate in the exchange in 2014 if they meet certain federal regulations. In 2015, the exchange board will set certification requirements and may consider affordability, quality of plans, promotion of prevention and wellness, reduction of health disparities, and the other criteria that have been part of previous proposals.
“Overall, we are pleased with the version that came out of the conference committee,” said Eric Dick, MMA’s manager of state and legislative affairs. “We had three goals and we accomplished most of them. We didn’t want to see any Health Care Access Funds go toward financing. We preferred the active purchaser model, which is what will take over in 2015. And, we wanted to see a physician on the board. That’s not a certainty but we still have a shot with the new language that was added.”
Committee members included: Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), chief author of the Senate bill; Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), chief author of the House version; Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato); Sen. James Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul); Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-Columbia Heights); Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL- Minneapolis); Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth); Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester); Rep. Dan Schoen (DFL-Cottage Grove); and Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).
Lawmakers are working to get a final bill passed and signed by the governor before March 31 to meet the deadline posed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The exchange, which is scheduled to begin enrolling participants this October, is expected to serve up to 1.3 million Minnesotans.