Tuesday, March 04, 2014

HITA Takes Another Step.  HF 2180, the Health Insurance Transparency Act--Education Minnesota's latest school health insurance proposal--took another step closer to the floors of the respective houses of the Legislature this afternoon as it passed the House Commerce Committee on a party-line vote of 10-7.  No amendments were offered but, at some level, it appears some progress is being made toward changes in the bill that would make it more palatable.  Julie Cink and Matt Mons from Prior Lake-Savage and Tom Peterson from Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan once again laid out the problems this bill would cause for school districts that are self-insured.  Sam Walseth outlined concerns of the Service Cooperatives, through whom a lot of health insurance is provided for Minnesota school districts.

I think a lot more about equalizing factors than I do about health insurance, but there are some puzzling things about this bill, especially as it relates to the sealed bid process that are troubling and need to be cleaned up before this can become law without major consequences for school districts.  What would prevent a substandard provider of health insurance to "low ball" a bid to school districts in terms of cost.  When the bids were opened, they would have the lowest cost irrespective of the quality of the product.  School districts could still refuse to take the lowest bid--they can make their decisions on the aggregate value of a proposal (cost of coverage considered along with quality of coverage)--but the public relations nightmare a district may face from not accepting the lowest bid may be considerable.

The next stop for the House bill is the Judiciary Committee.  The Senate version will be up in the Senate Education Policy Committee next week.  It appears the bill is moving toward relatively easy passage, but the authors in both bodies are willing to make changes that protect school districts, especially those that are self-insured.

Good to See SEE Members at the Capitol.  This is SEE week at the Capitol, with Deb Griffiths bringing groups from each of our SEE regions to the Capitol to lobby their legislators on issues of importance to their districts.  SEE members from the south metro were at the Capitol Tuesday and it was great to spend some time with them.  I look forward to seeing each group as they wind their way through the complex.

Tuesday Bill Introductions.  Because the House wanted to move their tax cut/tax conformity bill expeditiously through the process, both the House and Senate held floor sessions today, making the list of bill introductions considerably shorter.  So, here is the abbreviated list of introductions from today:

SF 2282 (Dahle)/HF 2681 (Selcer):  Changes review-and-comment process per School Facilities Funding Working Group recommendations:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF2282&version=0&session=ls88&session_year=2014&session_number=0

SF 2299 (Dahle)/HF 2693 (Sawatsky):  Enacts recommendations of Special Education Caseloads and Rule Alignment Task Force:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF2299&version=0&session=ls88&session_year=2014&session_number=0

SF 2305 (Dahle)/HF 2568 (Sawatsky):  Creates single online reporting system for special education due process data:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF2305&version=0&session=ls88&session_year=2014&session_number=0

HF 2698 (Sundin)/Currently No Senate Companion: Provides debt service equalization for debt incurred as a result of a natural disaster:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF2698&version=0&session=ls88&session_year=2014&session_number=0

HF 2706 (Slocum)/Currently No Senate Companion:  Modification of charter school provisions:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF2706&version=0&session=ls88&session_year=2014&session_number=0

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