Minn. GOP Offers Premium Savings Accounts As Alternative To Exchanges

Minnesota Republicans are offering state-based health premium savings accounts as an alternative to a health care exchange that Democrats in the state want to implement as part of the federal health reform law.

Minnesota Public Radio: Minn. Legislators Offer Competing Changes To Health Care
Republicans legislators Monday introduced a bill that they say would be a free-market alternative to a state-based health insurance exchange that is being considered by Gov. Mark Dayton's administration. Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud said the plan would give people access to health premium accounts. Individuals could save money in those accounts to pay for health care costs later. It's a better option than plans being put forward by the governor under the federal health care overhaul, Gottwalt said (Scheck, 3/5).

(Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press: Health Exchange Debate Takes Shape
The terms of debate over health exchanges in Minnesota became a little clearer Monday as Republicans in the state Legislature announced a bill to develop what they described as a free-market alternative to plans from the administration of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. … But it's unclear how the idea will be received by Dayton or if it would be sufficient to win certification by the federal government, which by year's end will evaluate the state's planning for a health exchange in Minnesota. The exchange is mandated by federal law and is intended as a new marketplace -- largely online -- for individuals and small businesses to buy coverage (Snowbeck, 3/5).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Republicans Propose Personal Accounts For Health Insurance
Republican legislative leaders announced a proposal to allow people to open personal health premium accounts that would help them purchase health insurance on the free market. Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, and Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, said their plan is aimed at helping people afford health insurance costs outside of the health insurance exchanges that are included under the federal Affordable Care Act, which Hann and Gottwalt oppose. Hann and Gottwalt chair health care committees in the two houses and said their plan has strong support among Republicans who control the Legislature (Ragsdale, 3/5).

In the meantime, the Washington state legislature and the Sacramento region prepare to implement part of the federal health law, and Utah mulls dropping out of the federal health care law.

The Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: WA Legislature Passes Rules For Insurance Exchange
The Washington state Legislature has passed a bill setting rules for insurers preparing for the state's online insurance exchange. The bill was approved by the House on Saturday and is headed for the governor's desk. The exchange is part of federal health care reforms, and is set go live in January of 2014 (Kaminsky, 3/5).

The Sacramento Bee: Four Sacramento Area Counties Prepare For Early Test Of Obama's Health Care Overhaul
One slice of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is coming early to the Sacramento region, providing a first glimpse at what the massive, complex law will look like. All four Sacramento-area counties are joining a program that will insure tens of thousands of residents who have been without coverage, more than a year before federal health care changes kicks in. For county governments and health care providers, the Low-Income Health Program is a chance to get a head start and work out some of the kinks in a new and complicated system -- one that must emerge by Jan. 1, 2014, but remains largely unformed (Rubenstein, 3/6).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Utah Could Opt-Out Of Federal Health Care
Utah could join other states seeking to forego expensive federal health care programs under a bill moving to the House. Republican Sen. Stuart Adams of Layton says Monday Senate Bill 208 gives the state the ability to manage its own health care system. Adams says the bill would allow the state to join a compact with other states who are opposed to the federal health care reform (3/5).

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