Minnesota legislative session begins

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Minnesota House of Representatives sworn in for the 2017 session

On the opening day of the 2017 legislative session, Governor Mark Dayton called on lawmakers to pass his health insurance premium rebate plan by the end of the week. 

The proposal to spend $313 million in state money to buy down individual health insurance premiums by 25 percent is the same plan he proposed to pass in a special session in December. The special session never materialized when new legislative leaders could not agree to terms in the wake of the November elections that gave control of both the House and Senate to Republicans.

“This is time urgent because open enrollment period ends January 31st,” said Dayton. “And Minnesotans are still making decisions about what level of healthcare coverage they can afford.” 

Sen. Tony Lourey and Rep. Tina Liebling, both Democrats and both authors of the proposed legislation say their bill offers immediate limited relief. 

“It is in no way perfect.  But what it does is bring immediate help to people who really, really need it and buy us all time to figure out a long-term solution.” Liebling said.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he initially agreed with Governor Dayton to take up the bill in the first week, but legislative logistics prevent it from immediately passing. Daudt says the bills will be introduced on Thursday.

“We do think that it’s very important to have public hearings to make sure the bill is heard in public committees where the public can input,” said Daudt.  “So we’re going to do that at the end of this week and the beginning of next week and pass a bill off the House floor by Thursday of next week.” 

The debate comes as President-elect Donald Trump early on Thursday quoted Dayton in a Tweet aimed at the newly sworn in congress to repeal Obamacare. “The Democratic Governor of Minnesota said, ‘The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is no longer affordable.’ – And, it is lousy healthcare,” read Trump’s tweet.

“I stand by that statement,” said Dayton when asked about Trump’s prodding.  Dayton agrees that the healthcare plan needs to be fixed.  “It’s crucial that we go back to restore that promise of the Affordable Care Act with the affordability and if you like your doctor you can keep him or her.”