On Monday, HF 5, the bill to establish a strong, people-first health insurance exchange in Minnesota, passed the final vote on its way to Governor Mark Dayton’s desk. Thank you for all your calls, e-mails and letters to support a people-centered exchange—your actions made a difference!
For the past year, LSP and our allies have been working to put people, not corporations, at the center of Minnesota’s exchange. This week, by passing HF 5, we won a health insurance exchange that has no corporations on the governing board and which gives community organizations the ability to help people “navigate” the exchange. We also won strong “active purchaser” powers for the exchange to negotiate with insurance companies for better deals for people.
This is an important win. The insurance industry, the Chamber of Commerce and other corporate interests fought tooth and nail to construct an exchange that put profits before people. They wanted to run it and have it paid by the public treasury.
They thought they could weaken the exchange so that it would bring them more customers and more profit, but not make them give people better, more affordable, less complicated health insurance.
They underestimated the power of people.
The insurance corporations did get their pound of flesh, though. They won a delay until 2015 to the implementation of the active purchaser power of the exchange. That is not good—it means that insurance companies will be allowed to flood the exchange with shoddy “choices” in 2014, the first year it is up and running.
But a strong board will be able to hit the ground running in 2015, and make companies remove bad plans and offer better, easier to compare insurance policies so that people can make the best decisions for themselves, their families and their small businesses. Key in the upcoming months is Gov. Dayton appointing a strong exchange board.
Senator Tony Lourey (Kerrick), one of the chief authors of the exchange bill, said yesterday that this exchange will be a “starting place,” and a “foundation on which to make sure Minnesotans have access to the care they need.”
The Land Stewardship Project agrees. Our members are clear: our health care system doesn’t work for people, and is in need of far-reaching reform. Winning a people-first Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange can be a first step towards a health care system that works for all Minnesotans, no exceptions.
Of course, there’s more work to do this year, including making sure the Legislature passes a bill that will allow Minnesota to keep and improve MinnesotaCare. We’ll be in touch about the MinnesotaCare bill (the bill numbers are Senate File 184 and House File 214) in the coming weeks.
But for now we wanted to let you know of this important, positive step forward. It’s progress, and LSP played a key role.
Great work. Stay tuned!
Megan Buckingham and Paul Sobocinski are LSP organizers working on health care issues.