Democrats add to mounting calls for health care cost fixes

Special session over rising health care costs?

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Senate Democrats are calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session to address rising health care costs.

Democrats who control the Senate had planned a press conference Thursday afternoon to lay out their plans. It adds to the mounting pressure for the Legislature to step in after Election Day as premiums are set to rise in the individual market.

Rate increases for 2017 range from 50 percent to 67 percent for Minnesota residents who aren't covered through employers or public programs. Top state regulators have expressed concern that the market can't survive without fixes.

There is no shortage of proposed solutions but it's unclear whether Democrats and Republicans can come together. Dayton has said he won't discuss the possibility until after Election Day.

One proposal would cap premiums at 9.6% of income and offer a tax credit to the estimated 280,000 people statewide who pay for their own insurance.

Democrats say it would be a one year fix but that Minnesota still needs a long term answer.

This is an economic catastrophe for these families," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.

Republicans say the plan is a political stunt.

"They're thinking the way to solve it is to write checks out of the general fund and hand it over to people and say, 'Here, we will pay part of your premium for you,'" said Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. "That is not a solution to this problem."


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