Dayton isn't thrilled with health insurance bill, won't sign it – but it'll become law

Yes, generally a bill gets the governor's signature before becoming law.
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The governor says he'll let a bill that pays back health insurance companies for expensive consumers will become law – but not with his signature.

In a letter to lawmakers Monday, Gov. Mark Dayton said he won't sign the $542 million reinsurance bill, but he'll let it become law "by not acting upon it within" the deadline, which is midnight Monday.

You might be thinking: "Wait, don't you always tell us that a bill that passed the House and Senate has to be signed by the governor to become law?" Yes, we do. But there are a couple not-often-used exceptions.

Once a bill passes both the House and Senate, the governor has a few options. He can sign the bill into law, veto the bill within three days, or let that deadline pass and become law without his signature (which is what Dayton is doing). There are also some different rules if it's the end of a legislative session, but those aren't applicable here.

What is reinsurance?

The reinsurance bill – called the Minnesota Premium Security Plan – will use federal and state funds to subsidize the cost of customers who are really expensive for health insurance companies, Session Daily explained. These expensive customers have driven up the cost of health insurance premiums for others on the individual market.

The hope is the bill will stabilize the individual market and be an incentive for health insurance providers to keep premiums low for people who buy insurance on their own.

Why didn't Dayton sign it?

Dayton has been worried about the reinsurance plan. He wanted health care companies to commit to reducing their rates before the bill became law, but they haven't. That's one reason he's not giving the bill his full support by signing it.

He also cited other reasons for not signing the bill.

Among them: One, lawmakers' decision to reject including a MinnesotaCare buy-in option to help boost competition in the market. And two, the source of the money for the state-funded subsidies for reinsurance – Dayton wanted the money to come from taxes on the insurance industry, but instead it will come from the General Fund and Health Care Access Fund.

But, Dayton wrote, he knows the bill is important to lowering health insurance premiums, so he's letting the bill become law anyway.

In the letter, he also called on the health insurance companies to give Minnesotans a good value for the $542 million they're getting in reinsurance.

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