Dayton wants decision soon on health care fix

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Gov. Mark Dayton said he wants a decision Monday on whether to move orward with a health care-related special session. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is growing increasingly frustrated over the lack of progress toward a special session to address rising health insurance costs.

Dayton challenged House Republicans Wednesday to “quit dilly-dallying” and decide whether they want to provide some premium relief before Jan. 1, to Minnesotans who are facing big increases in 2017 for individual market coverage.

During a news conference Wednesday, Dayton stressed that time is running out. He said he wants an answer from GOP leaders Monday, when his staff is scheduled to meet with House and Senate leaders to discuss the issue.

“These people are waiting,” Dayton said. “They’re making decisions now whether or not they can afford to enroll. They deserve to know already but certainly immediately whether or not we’re going to come in and help them out, or whether people are just going to posture about it, talk about and not do anything about it.”

Dayton is proposing a one-year, 25 percent premium reduction for individuals who do not qualify for existing federal tax credits.

House Republicans are proposing just a one-month, 20 percent reduction. In a letter sent to Dayton this week, four House GOP committee chairs said their plan would provide time to work out a “broader and more targeted relief program” based on income. They also want to allow eligible recipients to use the money for deductibles and out-of-network costs.

Dayton said his plan, while imperfect, is the only viable proposal ready for quick action before the 2017 regular session begins Jan 3.

“If we’re going to do this and give that assurance to people who need it, then they’ve got to act,” he said.

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