ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota's Democratic governor says the federal health care overhaul "is no longer affordable” for many people.
Gov. Mark Dayton made the stinging critique of the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday while addressing questions about Minnesota's fragile health insurance market. Individual plans are facing double-digit increases after all insurers threatened to exit the market entirely.
"I'm not trying to pass the buck," Dayton told reporters at a morning news conference, "but the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people. And Congress, which has been totally deadlocked in terms of making necessary changes or improvements, is going to have to step into this in January with the next administration."
"The subsidies the federal government provides, the tax credits are going to need to be increased and expanded to reduce the cost burden on those buying the insurance under the Affordable Care Act," Dayton continued. "The magnitude of this problem....Minnesota is not alone in this. There are many other states that have experienced significant increases."
The governor's comments follow similar cost concerns - and criticism - nationwide. President Bill Clinton caused a stir last week after calling the law "the craziest thing in the world." He later backtracked.
Under Dayton, Minnesota had embraced Obama's health care law, creating its own health insurance exchange. Dayton now says Congress needs to fix the law to help bring down costs and stabilize the insurance market for shoppers who aren't covered by employers or public programs.
Dayton also touted the positives about the law including the many people who now have insurance that didn’t before it was passed - including people with pre-existing conditions. But he told reporters he’s open to a special session on the growing crisis after the election.
"He says it's unaffordable and he's absolutely right about that,” said Brian Freeman.
Freeman, an award winning author is self-employed, along with his wife. Because of that they buy their own insurance and their costs have skyrocketed.
"I've written to my state representative and state senator to be pushing the governor for a special session,” he said. "We're starting out by paying about $15,000 in premiums, then several more thousand dollars in deductibles before we ever start to see any actual value from the policy.”
And Freeman is not alone. After soliciting experiences from people on KARE 11’s Facebook page, several people messaged us about their struggles.
Kelley Nemitz told KARE 11 “Our monthly rate will go to $2270 with a $13,100 family deductible. We are losing our doctors,” she said. “This is crazy and it has to stop.”
Maria told us about similar expenses for her family, but added her children and husband need Epi-pens which adds thousands of dollars on to their already high cost.
“I am so frustrated by healthcare,” she wrote.
The Republican Party of Minnesota was quick to respond to the Dayton's comments.
“Minnesota Republicans pointed out these flaws and tried to pass amendments to the legislation when Democrats under single party rule first passed it without a single Republican vote,” said Chairman Keith Downey.
That said Freeman believes now is not the time to point fingers.
“Republicans want to blame the Democrats for the Affordable Care Act, and the Democrats don’t want to really acknowledge the collateral damage to their well-intentioned policy changes,” he said. “But we’ve got to stop pointing fingers across the aisle and we got to find a solution.”