Minnesota's next governor will grapple with health care reform, including a new federal law that requires states to set up health insurance marketplaces.
In response to a comment made by Republican candidate Tom Emmer about increasing the competitiveness of health insurance in the state, Independence candidate Tom Horner said Minnesota needs to consider federal dollars meant to help states set up health insurance exchanges.
"Every state accepted the planning money except two: Minnesota and Alaska," Horner said. "And I think that speaks to the politics of the issue."
Horner's right: Minnesota and Alaska have so far said "no" to federal money.
The new health care law requires most people to have health insurance by 2014. But because some people don't have insurance through their jobs - and some people don't have jobs at all - the bill also requires that states set up so-called health insurance exchanges, virtual marketplaces where consumers and small businesses can shop for policies.
The idea is to make health insurance pricing more competitive. If the state fails to set up the exchange, the federal Department of Health and Human Services will run the operation.
Indeed, the health care bill has become a political flashpoint in Minnesota. In August, Gov. Tim Pawlenty issued an executive order barring state departments and agencies from applying for funding associated with the new law because he says it's an intrusion on state's rights. The executive order includes federal grants meant to help states get the exchanges off the ground.
On Sept. 30, 2010, the federal health department announced $49 million in such grants to 48 states and the District of Columbia.
Not included on the list? Minnesota and Alaska.
Horner's correct that Minnesota and Alaska are the only two states that have not applied for grants to help establish health insurance exchanges.
By Catharine Richert
The UpTake, Debating at the U: MN Candidates for Governor, Oct. 15, 2010
The Christian Science Monitor, Health care reform bill 101: What's a health 'exchange'?, by Peter Grier, March 20, 2010
The Kaiser Family Foundation, Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About Health Insurance Exchanges, April 2010
Minnesota Public Radio News, Pawlenty does about-face on insurance exchange idea, by Elizabeth Stawicki, October 8, 2010
Office of the Governor, Governor Pawlenty Signs Executive Order Directing State Agencies to Decline All Discretionary Participation in Obamacare, Aug. 31, 2010
HealthCare.gov, Health Insurance Exchanges: State Planning and Establishment Grants, accessed Oct. 18, 2010
HealthCare.gov, Grant Awards List, accessed Oct. 18, 2010