Premium rates will escalate sharply for Minnesota enrollees in the MNSure system in 2015, but no one’s quite sure just how much they’ll rise. The lowball estimate is 8%, far above inflation, and the high estimate puts the increase into double digits. Either would be a direct rebuttal to claims by Barack Obama, Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Al Franken, and the DFL that the ObamaCare system will control costs for Minnesotans. With an election coming up for Dayton and Franken, will Minnesota voters get the final data before they have to cast their votes? Not if Dayton can help it, apparently:
Gov. Mark Dayton tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he would be disappointed by such a large percentage increase in premiums, but the governor pointed out Minnesota still has the lowest rates in the country and that his goal is to keep it that way.
Dayton also says Brunner is entitled to her opinion.
“No one knows what the rates will be when they are approved and announced in November,” Brunner said.
Minnesota does not allow public disclosure of rate negotiations by law. University of Minnesota Professor Larry Jacobs says the public will start to get a very good idea of what the rates will be long before the November elections, even though the political strategy appears to indicate elected incumbents want the new rates withheld until after the elections.
Jacobs says it will be tough to keep the MNsure rate issue below the radar, and the strategy might backfire for incumbents.
One of Dayton’s prospective challengers, Jeff Johnson, demanded that the data be provided to voters before the election in a press release this morning:
“Governor Dayton is deliberately withholding the release of MNsure rates because they will damage his reelection prospects. It is a political cover up,” said Johnson. “It is time for Governor Dayton to come clean with Minnesota families and disclose how much their insurance rates are set to increase.”
MNsure, Governor Dayton’s version of Obamacare for Minnesota, has been fraught with problems. From a website that doesn’t work to last week’s disclosure that 16,000 Minnesotans were left without insurance because MNSure failed to follow up with them.
“MNsure has been a disaster and plagued with problems from the start,” Johnson said. “The last thing Minnesotans need now is their Governor playing politics and trying to cover up skyrocketing rate increases for his political gain. Mark Dayton needs to come clean and tell Minnesotans how much more they will be paying for insurance next year under MNsure.”
“Family budgets are more important than Dayton’s political calendar. Once again Dayton is throwing ordinary Minnesotans under the bus to further his own political needs,” Johnson concluded.
I tend to agree with Jacobs on this. Keeping the rates buried may end up looking worse than getting them out in the open early. It’s going to be a tough cycle for Democrats nationwide and probably even a little in blue Minnesota, but uncertainty that lasts all the way through the November election will allow Republicans to hit Dayton with the highest-end estimates for the two-plus months after the primary in August. MNSure’s lengthy list of failures and continuing problems will not get shoved under the carpet by the DFL (Minnesota’s Democrats), but will be a major issue in the state election regardless of any other distractions Dayton and his allies project.
Dayton knows this too, so here’s a pretty good way to measure just how bad these rate hikes will be: the more Dayton tries to keep them under wraps, the worse they’re going to be.
Update: Looks like ObamaCare won’t help in South Carolina either, where it’s forcing employers to shift to part-time staff: