Monday, February 24, 2014

The HITA is on.  The Health Insurance Transparency Act that is.  Education Minnesota is driving on the same road, but they've changed vehicles once again.  After being unable to establish a statewide health insurance pool and running into obstructions with their "automatic" PEIP proposal, Education Minnesota will be introducing the Health Insurance Transparency Act during the 2014 legislative session, perhaps as early as tomorrow (the first day of the session).

The bill is rather straightforward and would affect all school districts, self-insured and otherwise.  It has four distinct provisions that are featured in Education Minnesota's issue brief.  Education Minnesota sees the bill strengthening the system by which educators and school employees get health insurance by making the bidding process more "competitive and transparent."  It is hoped that the proposed changes would make coverage more affordable if enacted into law.

The primary changes are as follows:
School districts are required to seek bids from multiple health insurance providers.
The process would require sealed bids in an attempt to encourage health insurance providers fashion their bids around competitive rates based on actual usage.
School board members and other school employees involved in the health insurance procurement decision would be banned from receiving gifts from health insurance providers and consultants.
Any that any premium surplus be returned to school districts to offset premium costs.

There isn't a lot new here.  The complaints coming from Education Minnesota largely remain the same and I am relatively certain that the discussion coming from both sides (including our testimony) will be pretty much the same.  That doesn't mean that there will not be full discussion of the proposal and that it won't come to a floor vote at some point during the 2014 session.

I do not have (nor have I seen) the actual bill language for this proposal, but here is a link to talking points from Education Minnesota's website.


Legislature Back in Business Tomorrow.  As I referenced in today's first entry, the 2014 legislative session kicks off tomorrow, with the Senate and House both convening at high noon.  The hope is that the session will run smoothly and perhaps adjourn at the Easter/Passover break that falls in the third week in April.  The committee deadlines have been set up to accommodate an adjournment in that time frame.

The first policy committee deadline (in which bills must clear the last policy committee to which they have been referred in their legislative house of origin) is March 21.  The second policy committee deadline (in which companion bill to a bill that has passed its last policy committee in the other house must pass its last policy committee in its house of origin) is March 28.  The third deadline holds that all funding bills must pass their last committee stop is April 4.  It should make for a mad dash, but hopefully it will be a mad dash to a relatively early finish.

I'll be back tomorrow with information on the first day of session.

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