Here's what lawmakers need to agree on to get a final health insurance relief bill

A few key details are standing in the way.

Let the negotiations begin.

The Minnesota House on Thursday passed an amended version of the Senate's health insurance rebate and reform bill with a 73-54 vote.

But because the bills are different, it won't be going to Gov. Mark Dayton just yet. (The bills also differ from the plan Dayton suggested.)

Instead, lawmakers from both chambers will likely meet in a conference committee to hammer out the differences. House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he's aiming to get the final bill to Gov. Mark Dayton by next Thursday, Session Daily reports.

This means the bill could become law before open-enrollment for individual market health insurance for this year ends on Jan. 31. State officials have said some people have avoided buying insurance because they can't afford it without a guarantee of a rebate.

So will both sides agree on a bill that Dayton will sign? Time will tell, but it looks promising – both parties have said they'll make compromises on things that have prevented them from making a deal in the past, the Pioneer Press says.

Here's a break down of the big differences between the bills, and how they compare to what Democrats have suggested.

Income restrictions

Both bills have the same idea – and it's something Democrats have also supported. They would give rebates to the roughly 125,000 or so Minnesotans who bought health insurance through the individual market (so through MNsure, or directly from an insurance company for example) but make too much money to qualify for the tax credits that significantly bring down the cost.

The House bill would give a 25 percent insurance premium rebate to Minnesotans whose income doesn't exceed 800 percent of the poverty line (that's above $194,000 a year for a family of four). The Senate's bill has the same maximum income limit, but would offer different tiers of rebates, between 20-30 percent.

Gov. Dayton's plan said everyone affected would qualify for a rebate, no matter their income level.

Who would distribute it?

The House and Senate bills call for the roughly $300 million in rebates to come from the state's rainy day fund. It would be distributed by a state-run system set up through the Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner, which would control how the rebates are distributed.

This is a problem for Dayton and Democrats, who say doing this could make it take too long for Minnesotans to get the relief they need. Instead, Dayton supports a system where insurance companies administer the rebates.

"Minnesota families facing steep premium increases in the individual market need help now, not later," House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said, according to Session Daily. "That’s why Democrats support the governor’s proposal to provide relief to Minnesotans quickly."

But this difference may not hold up negotiations to pass the bill. The Pioneer Press says Daudt is "open" to letting the private sector run the rebate program instead of the state government, adding that if Republicans compromise on this, Dayton would need to be open to the reforms in the House's bill.


Republicans have stressed the need to reform the state's health care law, saying if nothing is done Minnesotans will face skyrocketing premiums in 2018 like they did this year when premiums went up by up to 67 percent.

Dayton and Democrats have said reforms shouldn't be tacked onto the relief bill, but should be a different bill. Although this week, Dayton said he'd be open to some reforms, the Pioneer Press says.

Some of the changes that are in both the House and Senate bills include allowing for-profit HMOs to sell insurance on the individual marketplace. The House bill also includes changes that Republicans say will help rural Minnesotans get access to the care they need through an agriculture cooperative health plan.

The bill allows health companies to opt out of offering plans that are required by the federal Affordable Care Act, including a list of things insurers can choose whether or not to cover.

Another key difference between the House and Senate bill is that the House's version doesn't include a $150 million state-run reinsurance program, Session Daily notes.

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