Democratic Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota had some tough words for Obamacare Wednesday. “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for an increasing number of people,” Gov. Dayton told reporters for the Pioneer Press. He added, “It’s a very serious problem.”
Dayton is reacting to massive premium hikes in Minnesota of 50 to 67 percent for next year. Earlier this month when announcing the premium increases, Minnesota’s Commerce Commissioner, Mike Rothman, described them as “unsustainable.” From the Pioneer Press:
“These rising insurance rates are unsustainable and unfair,” Rothman said. “This is a real emergency situation.”…
“These are middle-class Minnesotans,” Rothman said. “They are getting squeezed, crushed, by these health insurance costs.”
One of the factors driving premiums higher is lack of competition. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota announced it would withdraw from the Obamacare exchange in June after suffering millions in losses. It was the first state BCBS to do so though eventually its counterparts in Nebraska and Tennessee would follow suit (in Tennessee BCBS dropped around 60% of its business but is still selling plans in rural parts of the state).
In addition to the lack of competition, insurers that remain on the Minnesota exchange are likely expecting to pick up a lot of the customers that BCBS dropped. So in addition to whatever problems these insurers have already had trying to break even in the marketplace, they now have a new influx of costly patients.
A spokesman for Gov. Dayton issued a clarification to his statements to Politico saying, “The governor wants to make it clear that the Republicans in Congress are to blame for their unwillingness to make improvements necessary to make the Affordable Care Act more successful.” So the people who thought this was probably a bad idea in the first place are, according to Democrats, completely to blame for it not working as Democrats expected it would.