March 12, 2021

Committee deadlines upon us, Vaccine update, Democracy Town Hall this Sunday, and other news  

The pace of the legislative session has noticeably picked up these last couple of  weeks with the deadlines for policy bills putting pressure on committees. In this flurry of committee work, I am excited to let you know that we have a hearing for a bill updating and modernizing language in the statute that enabled the creation of the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC). The hearing is on Tuesday, March 16th, at 8:30 AM in the Senate Committee on Local Government (SF 2029).

COVID-19 Vaccine Update:

Vaccine eligibility is expanding to the next two groups of priority populations. Providers will prioritize appointments for individuals in the first group, but will have flexibility to offer available appointments to people in the second group.

I am glad to see that we will be protecting more frontline workers, from those who work in grocery stores to transportation-- those who have continued to work in contact with others throughout this pandemic. 

You can see the specifications on current eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine on the Who’s Getting Vaccinated page here.

If you are eligible, you can find where to get vaccinated here. 

Democracy Town Hall with Lt. Governor Flanagan!

Please join me for a Democracy Town Hall this Sunday afternoon, March 14, at 4:00 PM! FairVote MN and Clean Elections MN are joining forces to host a virtual town hall with Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, some of my colleagues, and me about proven, achievable and powerful solutions to protect and strengthen our democracy like Ranked Choice Voting, campaign finance reform, and more.

We look forward to having you with us, and to your being a part of the conversation about what can be done, individually and collectively, to build a stronger Minnesotan democracy.

You can register to participate here.

Minnesota Budget Forecast:

The Minnesota Management and Budget agency released their updated February budget forecast today, which is what we base our conversations on as we set the State's budget for the next biennium.

This forecast makes two things abundantly clear. This economic recovery is not being felt equally by Minnesotans, and we can afford to fund a full and fair recovery for every Minnesotan.

Please find my full remarks here.


Reinsurance: insurance for insurance companies

In recent years, Minnesota has been paying for insurance for health insurance companies. The goal is to lower health insurance premiums on the individual marketplace, but it costs taxpayers $106 million in state funds and $77 million in federal pass-through funding, and $100 million in federal funding that would have been for MinnesotaCare. However, there is nothing that will prevent these subsidies from being diverted into already-skyrocketing CEO salaries.

The cost of healthcare is a significant burden on economic security and quality of life. Premiums are much too high. Many Minnesotans have insurance plans with extremely high deductibles, and their out-of-pocket expenses prevent them from getting the healthcare they need. Many others cannot afford healthcare coverage at all and face catastrophic consequences including medical bankruptcy and denial of care should they become seriously injured or sick.

In America, we pay twice as much on healthcare per capita for similar or worse healthcare outcomes than other comparable nations.

The reinsurance program does not address the underlying cost of healthcare. It mitigates the cost of claims to the insurers by offloading those costs to the state. We can debate whether this is the best way to mitigate increases to healthcare premiums, but we should all agree that any insurance company who accepts taxpayer-funded subsidies from the state of Minnesota should not be paying their top executives millions of dollars while so many struggle to afford basic care.

MNsure open enrollment continues

MNsure’s COVID-19 special enrollment period has begun and goes until Monday, May 17th. This enrollment period is open to uninsured Minnesotans or those not currently enrolled through MNsure. Some helpful links are copied below:
  • Compare plans on MNsure by premium, co-pay, deductible, covered prescriptions and more.
  • Most Minnesotans qualify for financial assistance to help cover the cost of insurance.
  • Free enrollment assistance is available with a MNsure-certified broker or navigator. For general questions, reach out to MNsure's Contact Center: 855-366-7873 (651-539-2099 within the Twin Cities).