HEALTH INSURANCE: Dayton signs Minn. exchange into law - FOX 35 News Orlando

HEALTH INSURANCE: Dayton signs Minn. exchange into law

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

On Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a bill that will establish a new marketplace allowing Minnesotans to compare and purchase health care insurance policies online.

"This is a great day for the people of Minnesota," said Governor Dayton. "Today we are taking a major step forward to improve the quality and affordability of health care for the people of Minnesota."

House lawmakers passed the legislation last week, with all but one Democrat supporting it and Republicans opposed. The Senate passed the bill Monday on a straight party-line vote.

The move officially establishes MNsure, beating the March 31 deadline in order to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act and avoid using the federal, one-size-fits-all option. It is expected to be available for use by Oct. 1.

"This is a Minnesota-made online marketplace: capitalism at its best," said Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL – Inver Grove Heights), who authored the bill in the House. "This is the most significant health care reform in the last 50 years.

It's estimated that 1.3 million Minnesotans will use MNsure, including nearly 300,000 residents who are currently uninsured.

"Individuals, families and small businesses will be able to get quality, affordable health coverage that saves them money and fits their budget," Atkins said.

Dayton's office estimates the exchange will save families and businesses about $1 billion in health care costs by 2016, saying that after federal tax credits, individual consumers should see an estimated 34 percent decrease in premiums through MNsure. That amounts to about $500 annually per family.

"This legislation is the result of a lot of hard work from people that truly want to offer better health care options in Minnesota," said state Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL – Kerrick), who authored the bill in the Senate. "I think MNsure will be a great benefit to the people of Minnesota. Individual consumers, families, small businesses, and the health care industry will all benefit from MNsure."

One in five Minnesotans will use MNsure to access their health coverage, as well as the subsidies and tax credits that come with it. Lawmakers say the consumer-focused market will also require insurance companies to compete for business.

MNsure will also modernize enrollment in public programs, helping 700,000 Minnesotans more easily enroll in medical assistance.

The marketplace will be run by a seven-member board that will include Health and Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. Dayton will appoint the others before April 30.

Insurance policies purchased through MNsure are expected to begin coverage on Jan. 1, 2014; however, the state has a public information website tailored for consumers and small business owners to help them prepare.

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