The Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) bill SF1 Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) / HF5 Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) has been moving through the Legislature on a bumpy road to the floor. In order to meet the aggressive deadline set by the federal government, the bill has been racing through the committee process. According to the authors, the bill must be signed into law by the end of March to avoid imposing a federal HIX on Minnesota.
In the House, the HIX bill is scheduled to be on the floor on Monday, March 4. Amendments to the bill are due my noon today and amendments to the amendments are due by 6pm today. Please check the website today at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cco/amendmentall.asp to view amendments. Since January 10, the bill has been heard and amended in eight committees. In the Senate, Senator Lourey has shepherded the bill through seven committees. The Senate Tax Committee amended the funding source from a 3.5% premium withhold/tax to using the Health Impact Fee (aka cigarette taxes) to fund the HIX. Likely the Senate will take up the HIX bill on Thursday, March 7. It is expected that both bills will require significant debate.
The most contentious issues in the bill are the funding source and overall cost, the make-up of the HIX Board, and the Board’s authority to pick and choose insurance carriers and products. Currently the bills do not match and would require a conference committee. In order to meet the end of March deadline, along with the Easter and Passover break, conferees will need to be appointed quickly so the conference committee can begin their work.