Two Republican House members, who opposed the establishment of MNsure, Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange at the Legislature, haven’t grown any fonder of the program that kicked off Tuesday.
Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, and Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, R-St. Cloud, renewed their criticism of the program as ineffective and too costly when they visited Brainerd this week.
“We know the cost is going to be higher,” Daudt said. “It’s going to cost more and less people will be insured.”
The Republican lawmakers predicted that employers will not offer health insurance because of the new exchange.
Daudt criticized the state expenditure of more than $160 million to create a marketplace to purchase health insurance coverage and hiring of 84 MNsure employees, 22 of whom earn more than $100,000 annually, according to the minority leader. MNsure hired too many people at “bloated salaries,” according to Daudt.
Key failings of MNsure, according to Daudt, are that it doesn’t address the root causes of rising health care costs and that it isn’t as effective as the state’s former system which included MnCare.
“I wish the feds would have just left us alone,” he said. “We’ve been doing this much better for years,” he said.
Daudt said he wants the program to succeed and he’ll wait and see what happens.
“I don’t want to pass the judgment that this thing is absolutely doomed to fail,” Daudt said. “If this thing doesn’t work we need to be honest about it.”
The DFL majority, which controls both houses of the Legislature, put solutions in place that aren’t answering the health care insurance problems Minnesotans face, Daudt said. He said the new system has already spent way too much money and will miss the marks of lowering costs and providing more people with health insurance.
O’Driscoll questioned why premiums were required to be the same both inside and outside of the state health insurance exchange. He also questioned what consumer protection existed for Minnesotans working with the MNsure navigators, who were not licensed insurance agents, and how secure citizen-submitted data would be.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that a MNsure employee sent out an email that contained Social Security numbers of about 1,500 brokers.
The state program, which is expected to cost about $60 million a year, will be funded with a 1.5 percent surcharge on premiums, a figure that could rise to about 3 percent later.