Frustration with Trump administration brings Dayton and state Republicans together

Both are frustrated with poor communication from the Trump administration over health care funding.

Gov. Mark Dayton at Minnesota's Republican state legislators have gone through a rocky few months, what with the very-public budget battle and lawsuit that's still getting sorted out.

But right now, both are in full agreement on something.

Lawmakers this spring approved a plan (referred to as reinsurance) that will help keep health insurance premiums lower for Minnesotans who buy who coverage on the open market. 

Dayton didn't love the plan but let it become law anyway, saying he knows it's important to lower premiums. 

So far, it appears to have worked. Local health insurers said the reinsurance would dramatically slow the rising cost of premiums people have to pay. And the New York Times even did an entire story about how it could be instructive for U.S. lawmakers looking to address health insurance costs. 

But there's a hang-up

To implement reinsurance without taking a financial hit, Minnesota needs what's called a 1332 State Innovation Waiver – it's a way for states to add health care features beyond what's laid out in the Affordable Care Act.

As Minnesota's Commerce Department explains, the waiver would secure some federal funding for this reinsurance plan, and also ensure federal funding for MinnesotaCare (an insurance program for low-income Minnesotans) doesn't get slashed.

According to Dayton's office, state officials have been in talks with federal officials about the reinsurance bill and the 1332 waiver for months. 

But despite being told repeatedly that Minnesota's application was good to go and should be approved before September, state officials still haven't gotten an official word that yes, it's been approved.

On top of that, the White House administration recently told the governor that landing the reinsurance waiver could mean Minnesota loses out on $369 million in federal funding for MinnesotaCare over the next couple years.

That's goes against "all direction and assurances" Minnesota officials were given while writing the reinsurance bill and applying for the 1332 waiver, Dayton wrote this week in a letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price.

And as The Associated Press recently reported, the state legally has to set insurance rates by Oct. 2 – so they need a clear answer soon

The governor's office provides a timeline of communications from February through August here.

The governor, state Republicans push together

Both Dayton and state Republicans from the House and Senate are urging U.S. officials to immediately approve the waiver, and expressing concern about that possible $369 million federal funding hit.

That new revelation "completely contradicts" what Dayton was told recently, Republicans leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate wrote in a letter to Price and Treasury Sercetary Steven Mnuchin

"That is, Minnesota was only now informed that other state-federal partnership healthcare programs would be adversely impacted by the institution of a state-based reinsurance program," the letter continues.

How big of an impact would it make?

The state could be in line to lose $369 million in federal Basic Health Plan funding for MinnesotaCare – but would gain $208 million in federal funds for reinsurance.

Overall, Minnesota would be $161 million in the hole according to the governor's office.

Dayton called it a "very damaging reversal of federal responsibility" if the cut does indeed go through, and excoriated the Donald Trump administration for what he called a "nightmarish" waiver process.

"Essentially, we are being penalized for doing exactly what the President and you have been encouraging us to do: take new reform initiatives," he wrote.

State Republicans had a slightly different take, saying they were just trying to cope with the "turbulence and expense of Obamacare" as best they could. But the request was the same – get the waiver officially approved.

"We are at the mercy of a Congress at impasse and the willingness of the Trump Administration to minimize the destruction caused to Minnesota families under the current law," they wrote. "People’s livelihoods – their families, small businesses, homes – are at stake."

Next Up

police lights

Attempted luring of 14-year-old girl reported in West St. Paul

The suspect is described as a white man in his 40s.

Screen Shot 2021-03-04 at 9.19.48 PM

Worker, 18, suffers serious electric shock at Vikings apartments site

The worker was reportedly in a critical condition Thursday.


As golf season approaches, book your round now at Dacotah Ridge GC

The stunning course is designed by world-renowned architect Rees Jones.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett's group out of potential Timberwolves sale

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said that Garnett's group was not one of "more than 10" to buy the team.


Full production winery set to open in Minneapolis this month

The couple behind Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery is opening AxeBridge Wine Company in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood.


Pedestrian killed in two-vehicle crash in Crystal

The incident happened just after noon.

Screen Shot 2021-03-04 at 1.45.48 PM

Foss Swim School opens its 9th Minnesota location in former Pier 1 store

The Eden Prairie based company has 22 locations across the Midwest.

police tape, crime scene

Charges: Minneapolis man kills woman, tells police to kill him

A convicted felon is accused of fatally shooting a 29-year-old woman on Feb. 28.


It's that time of year: Minneapolis offers deal on trees for property owners

The City Trees program sells trees for $25 from March 8 to April 16, or until trees run out.

coronavirus, covid-19, doctor

CDC report reveals how first cases of Brazilian COVID variant came to MN

Dozens of people had to be tested for the virus after the first and only two cases of the P.1 variant were detected in Minnesota.


Trump can halt funding used to help keep health insurance premiums low, judge says

The funds were put in place to help keep health plan costs affordable.

Update: Help with health insurance costs is on the way

Not in the agreement? A proposal that would have let health insurance that doesn't meet Affordable Care Act requirements be sold in the state.

Comparing the tax cut plans from Republican lawmakers and Gov. Dayton

GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have offered up big tax cuts. The governor's tax cut plan isn't as large.

What's in Senate Republicans' health care cost plan – and why Democrats don't like it

It's the first major step to address a problem both parties have acknowledged.

Politics in 2017: Trump and Dayton argue health care over Twitter

The president-elect and the governor of Minnesota, trading barbs on Twitter.

22 million more uninsured under Senate's health care overhaul, estimate says

That figure is slightly lower than what's projected for the House version of the health care bill.

What the heck is going on with that big tax bill Senate Republicans have been talking about?

It looked like Senate Republicans would be able to pass it – then things hit a bump Thursday.