Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL — Chronically ill Minnesotans are driving up health insurance premiums so much that state officials are rushing to deal with the problem. Commerce Department officials on Monday told a task force studying how to contain soaring health insurance costs that 2.2 percent of people who bought individual policies last year caused 50 percent of claims. That forced up prices for healthier people. As the task force looks at ways to reduce insurance costs, the Commerce Department advice was that any solution has to address that disparity.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans looking to buy new Medica individual insurance policies, but have not already made the purchase for 2017, are out of luck. The state Commerce Department announced early Friday, Nov. 11, that Medica of Wisconsin and Medica Insurance Co. reached a cap on the number of new policies they are willing to sell. That means for most of the state, the companies stop selling policies to people who are not already customers.
ST. PAUL—The election did not appear to clarify whether the governor and lawmakers will agree on how to lower health insurance premiums.
ST. PAUL—Election day may be Tuesday, but 568,196 Minnesotans already have voted. That is the word this morning from the secretary of state's office and represents the most early voters ever. This is the first presidential election in which a state no-excuse, early-voting law is in effect. The figure represents the absentee vote count plus mail-in ballots used in some rural predicts.
ST. PAUL—The Nov. 8 election will be rare. The big difference from other elections, obvious to anyone paying attention, is two unpopular presidential candidates sit at atop the ballot. In Minnesota, the only statewide race is a little-followed one for Supreme Court justice. Once every 12 years the ballot is void of a statewide political race. There is no governor contest, no mention of U.S. senator, attorney general, state auditor or secretary of state.
ST. PAUL — Technology issues are fixed and the state's MNsure health insurance sales program has enrolled 10,000 Minnesotans, a mark not hit for nearly a month last year. "We've helped more Minnesotans than we have in any two-day period in our history," MNsure executive Allison O'Toole told reporters Thursday, Nov. 3.
ST. PAUL—Dramatic numbers show something was up when the MNsure state agency opened individual health insurance policy sales. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Minnesota agency's telephone call center received 50,000 calls in the first hour it was open to sell 2017 policies. Throughout the day, 80,000 calls were attempted. On Wednesday, the number was 4,100 by 3 p.m., a figure that officials said was to be expected. Gov. Mark Dayton said someone was trying to jam the MNsure phone lines as the agency opened its annual sales effort.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota deputy sheriffs are back home after aiding North Dakota law enforcement officials at an oil pipeline protest. While Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said on Facebook that she opposed sending Minnesota officers to North Dakota, where American Indian and other protesters have objected to building a new pipeline for months, Gov. Mark Dayton said he has no problem with it. "I do not object," Dayton said Tuesday when asked by Forum News Service.
ST. PAUL—The opening of individual health insurance policy sales Tuesday, Nov. 1, was greeted by a robocall effort to block people from reaching the state agency selling policies. Gov. Mark Dayton said the seven-minute wait time for people calling about insurance policies at 9 a.m. slowed to 19 minutes when the automated telephone calls tied up the system. The robocall system was blocked from the MNsure state-run insurance sales agency, the governor added, and call waits quickly dropped.