Monday, May 12, 2014

HITA Bill Finished.  The conference committee on HF 2180--the Health Insurance Transparency Act--finished its work today.  One of the changes made to the final bill was an erosion to the Senate position that would have totally exempted self-insured districts from having to participate in the multiple bid program.  Instead of a straight exemption, the self-insured districts have to get three bids from providers of third party administrative services.  Districts that are currently self-insured or those with more than 1,000 insured lives that subsequently become self-insured do not have to seek a bid from PEIP for these services, but can if they so desire.  Districts who become self-insured in the future and insure less than 1,000 lives must get a bid from PEIP.

Other language relating to the self-insurance issue adopted today helps bring greater clarity to the issue of which districts are self-insured.  Under the interpretation of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, districts that buy their insurance through the self-insured pools developed by the service cooperatives are self-insured.  While self-insured in one sense, they are certainly not self-insured in the same sense as individual districts who build their own system of self-insurance and language was needed to delineate that difference.

The bill will now go to the House floor for final approval.  It is likely to pass relatively easily, even with the changes that some legislators who represent self-insured districts are not likely to support.  If passed, the bill will then head to the Senate, where there will likely be several defections from the DFL majority, but probably not enough to ground the bill.

In the end, it has always been difficult for me to comprehend the need for this bill.  Teacher bargaining units throughout the state still have unilateral authority to opt to be covered by PEIP during contract negotiations.  Given that "hammer," I don't know why bargaining units would need to saddle districts boards and administrations with a lot of paperwork that will change little, if anything.

Rumor of Targets.  Rumors are abounding that the budgets targets have been reached for each of the spending areas in the omnibus supplemental appropriations bill have been set and that the target for E-12 education is $54 million (with a tails target of $108 million).  This is closer to the Senate target ($13 million above) than it is to the House target ($22 million below) and it will be difficult for the House position of a 1% increase on the basic formula to be achieved given the spending constraints resulting from a target at this level.

I would urge everyone who wants to see a lion's share of the target go toward the basic formula to contact members of the conference committee, especially the Senate members, and urge them to support the House's commitment to the basic formula.  Also, thank the House members for putting this provision in the bill and pushing it during the conference committee proceedings.

Here are the legislative home pages for each of the conference committee members.  You can e-mail them directly from their individual pages.



Please make these contacts as soon as possible.  By the end of the day Tuesday, it may be too late to make a difference!

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