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State Senator David W. Hann

District 48
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St. Paul, MN 55155-1206
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Minnesota Senate

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Date:August 16, 2011
Contact Name:Peter Winiecki
Contact Phone:651-297-8077
For Immediate Release

St. Paul -- Minnesota State Legislators responded today to an announcement by Governor Mark Dayton that a $4.2 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services health exchange grant that was awarded to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The grant will be used for further planning and establishment of a Minnesota health insurance exchange. A controversial proposal in the federal healthcare bill, the establishment of state health insurance exchanges are being resisted in several states.

“With the awarding of this grant, the Governor appears to continue to move forward on establishing a Minnesota health insurance exchange without consulting with the Minnesota State Legislature and stakeholders from the public,” said State Senator David Hann, chairman of the Minnesota State Senate Health and Human Service Committee. “Our Senate HHS Committee held a hearing asking the Commissioners of HHS and Commerce to tell us what they are doing on the establishment of an exchange without legislative input and they basically would not tell us anything,.”

“The Dayton administration has chosen to go-it-alone, taking federal funds to build an Obamacare exchange with virtually no input from the Legislature or Minnesotans who will be affected by it,” said Rep. Steve Gottwalt, chairman of the Minnesota House of Representatives Health and Human Services Reform Committee. “This is wrong and we call on Governor Dayton to stop building an Obamacare exchange behind closed doors. We insist that Governor Dayton and Commissioner Mike Rothman collaborate with the Legislature, patients, providers and others in determining the path of health care reform for Minnesota.”

“This is an incredibly sensitive issue that is tied to the federal healthcare law that is even under question as to whether it is constitutional or not,” said Sen. Chris Gerlach, chairman of the Minnesota Senate Commerce Committee. “We are going to have to take a serious look at how the Department of Commerce is planning to administer this grant and we’ll hold hearings on this early next session to see if we have to take legislative action.”

“As a freshman member of the legislature and of the HHS Committee, these are types of actions that frustrate the voters,” said Sen. Michelle Benson. “Government constantly going around various checks and balances is why there is great concern and pushback from voters on this federal healthcare bill, they don’t have great confidence that these things will help control costs and improve healthcare in the long run.”