Editorial: State blindsided by feds on health care premiums

Published 7:30 pm Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Trump administration, by not following through on its promises to approve a state reinsurance program, is undermining the insurance market in Minnesota.

Minnesotans of all partisan persuasions should be displeased with the Trump administration’s apparent sabotage of the state’s attempts to solve the problems of the individual health insurance market.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton agreed this spring on a reinsurance plan devised by the Republican-led Legislature to address rising premiums. At the time, the state was assured by the federal Department of Health and Human Services that the proposal would be approved by August and that it would not harm funding for other state programs.

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September is almost past. The feds, with time running short to set 2018 premiums, still haven’t OK’d the reinsurance program. Without the program, premiums may rise 20 percent.

And now, HHS says the reinsurance program will lead to a $370 million reduction in funding for low-income health care. The department has, the governor says, given no rationale for the cut, and HHS Secretary Tom Price is avoiding Dayton’s phone calls.

Dayton is, understandably, upset. So is Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican congressman who represents the western suburbs of the Twin Cities. Legislators from both parties say the reinsurance program may have to be scrapped.

Dayton on Wednesday dodged the question of whether the cuts and approval delays are politically motivated. But the delay in promised approval and the sudden surprise funding cut appear to fit President Donald Trump’s oft-stated intent to make the health care markets collapse.

That’s bad government. Minnesota is making a good-faith effort to address a problem. The Trump administration, having first encouraged that effort, is now undermining it. It should grant approval of the program and at the very least explain the drastic reduction in funding, and preferably rescind that reduction.

— Mankato Free Press, Sept. 21

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