Posted: 01/11/15 13:09, Edited: 01/11/15 13:16
by Dave Mindeman
As I look at some of the initial proposals coming out of the Minnesota House, it is hard to understand exactly where they are trying to go.
Take for example, MNsure (KSTP's Tom Hauser's favorite subject).
The Minnesota House is backing off all the talk of doing away with it - probably because they knew all along that it wasn't going to happen with a Democratic governor and a Democratic Senate.....but in addition, they have no alternative plan for health insurance in the state - nothing.
But, they have to make it look like they are reforming it. So, the first things out of the gate are....
-more legislative oversight
-cap on bonuses
-restrictions on executive salaries
How in the world is that going to help MNsure?
Frankly, all this will guarantee is that we will never be able to attract quality personnel to lead the MNsure program.
But let's look at how MNsure is doing without all of this Republican help.
First, they are staying on budget. They have not needed extra budget dollars and now are receiving an additional $34 million from the Feds to keep improving the website. So that situation seems to be resolving itself.
Second, the current sign-up process has gone exponentially better this year as compared to last. Scott Leitz seems to have righted the ship, although improvements are still needed.
Third, rates are still good. Even though there has been some additions and subtractions to the insurance carriers, the overall numbers are still showing very modest increases, if any.
One of the things the House Republicans think they need to do is to expand the availability of Federal subsidies to insurance offerings outside of MNsure.
Here is the problem with that. The state exchanges that are set up through the ACA with the help of the Federal government have direct verification methods with the IRS. Setting this up has been complicated and may have been one of the reasons the Fed site had so many problems.
But what this accomplishes is to verify eligibility for individuals and to avoid fraud. Since outside carriers would have much more limited access to IRS verification, the fraud possibility increases.
It would be ironic that the House Republicans "remedies" for MNsure could actually cause a bigger problem than we have now.
The lead legislator on MNsure oversight is going to be Rep. Tara Mack... and so far she has been less than impressive in how she handles this. For the most part, she considers oversight to be synonymous with being a partisan critic. Which is not going to be helpful in actual problem solving. She has yet to offer anything remotely constructive - and so far has only put forward more Republican talking points as her contribution.
To me, it looks like we would all be better off if the House Republicans just quit trying to "help" when it comes to MNsure.