Health Team

Democrat Dayton: Health law 'no longer affordable' for many

Posted October 12

FILE - In this March 9, 2016, file photo, Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton delivers his State of the State address at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Dayton said Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, that the Affordable Care Act is “no longer affordable,” a stinging critique from a state leader who embraced the law just a few years ago. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

— Minnesota's Democratic governor said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act is "no longer affordable" for many, a stinging critique from a state leader who strongly embraced the law and proudly proclaimed health reform was working in Minnesota just a few years ago.

Gov. Mark Dayton made the comments while addressing questions about Minnesota's fragile health insurance market, where individual plans are facing double-digit increases after all insurers threatened to exit the market entirely in 2017. He's the only Democratic governor to publicly suggest the law isn't working as intended.

Dayton's comments follow former President Bill Clinton's saying last week that the law was "the craziest thing in the world" before he backtracked.

"The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people," Dayton said, calling on Congress to fix the law to address rising costs and market stability.

The Democratic-driven criticism has emboldened Republicans in Minnesota and nationwide to try to scrap President Barack Obama's 2010 law. Clinton faced backlash for the comments he made during a Michigan rally for his wife last week, and he later clarified his support for the law and called for fixes to address gaps in coverage.

Few states have embraced the health care law more strongly than Minnesota under Dayton. Lawmakers created a state-run online market exchange for people who aren't covered by employers or public programs to buy individual coverage. When those policies first went on sale in 2013, Dayton and state officials touted the lowest health insurance rates in the nation.

But after several years of steadily increasing premiums, top state regulators said this fall that Minnesota's individual market is in "a state of emergency." The state scrambled to stop all seven companies that sell insurance directly to consumers or through the state exchange, MNsure, from fleeing for 2017, but the state's largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, is still exiting.

Health care insurance shoppers will see premium increases that range from 50 percent to 67 percent on their plans for next year.

Across the nation, insurers have sought double-digit premium increases while major companies — including Aetna and UnitedHealth — have pulled out of many state-based exchanges for 2017 after forecasting heavy financial losses. The Obama administration portrays the premium increases as a one-year market correction that can be absorbed or offset by larger financial help through tax credits.

Minnesota lawmakers are mulling potential fixes to get costs under control and ensure the individual market can survive. While Dayton said that's worth considering, he said the bulk of the problem lies at the federal level.

"It's got some serious blemishes right now and serious deficiencies," he said.


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This story has been corrected to show that the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, not 2009.


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  • Scott Newton Oct 12, 7:58 p.m.
    user avatar

    Oh bull about the conservatives having every opportunity to work across this isle. Do some homework before posting such drivel. This was passed in the dead of night by the socialist party with NO conservative fingerprints on it. Everyone knew it was going to be a disaster from the beginning. All you fools can do is blame the conservatives for every single thing that happens while accepting no blame for anything. Hypocrites at the highest level.

  • Aiden Audric Oct 12, 5:54 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Conservatives had every opportunity to work across the aisle. They didn't. Not only did they vow to block everything Obama tried, they were good on their word and made sure millions were hamstrung trying to get medicare.

    Seems like the shoe fits.

    Single payer, with an option to buy additional coverage. But we can't have "welfare queens", now, can we (does anyone still believe they exist?)

  • Samuel Tyler Oct 12, 4:51 p.m.
    user avatar

    Isn't that what republicans said long before it was crammed down everyone's throat, but they were called racist, obstructionist, hard to get along with, blah blah blah.