The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 4, 2013

Minn. House passes health exchange proposal

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House passed a bill Monday establishing the state’s health insurance exchange, the first step toward enactment of an online marketplace that aims to give more than a million Minnesotans a new place to purchase affordable health insurance.

Rep. Joe Atkins, the chief House sponsor, called the bill creating a health insurance exchange “the most significant health reform in 50 years” — since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965. The exchanges are a centerpiece of the federal health care overhaul.

Preliminary estimates are for the Minnesota-run exchange to offer coverage to 1.3 million people. Of those, about 300,000 currently lack health insurance.

“That’s people who will have insurance to rely upon to cover their health care needs,” said Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights.

Another 600,000 are people currently covered by public programs, and several more hundred thousand are small employers who ideally will be able to get a better deal than their current insurance offers.

The House approved the bill 72-58 on a nearly party-line vote, after a debate that lasted more than five hours. One Republican and one Democrat crossed party lines: Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, supported the bill, while Rep. Laurie Halvorsen, DFL-Eagan, voted against it.

The debate also produced a brief skirmish over abortion. The House amended the bill to prohibit abortions from being covered in plans sold on the exchange, with a handful of Democrats joining Republicans to make the change. A DFL lawmaker pointed out that the federal health care law also prohibits abortions from being covered.

Republicans complained that lawmakers were investing major state resources and time in an experiment. They raised concerns the exchange would drive insurance costs up for many Minnesotans, that participants would lose access to favorite doctors and that private medical information might not be closely guarded.

“Welcome to the Democrats’ health care exchange: less choice, more cost, no privacy,” said Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Hypersonic jets, lasers future for Air Force researchers WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Air Force hypersonic weapons and fighter jets with lasers could fly in the skies of the future. Air Force Research Laboratory researchers have made top priorities of hypersonics, directed-energy weapons and au

    April 16, 2014

  • Dress codes: Where should schools set limits? EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — They're called leggings — popular fashion items that are tight-fitting pants to some, and glorified tights to others. Younger girls often wear them as pants with little fuss. But as those same girls approach middle school, legg

    April 16, 2014

  • On Vegas Strip, the Harmon tower set to fall -- with a whimper LAS VEGAS — One by one, the grand old dames of the Strip outlived their charms — the Dunes, Stardust and Aladdin — and down they came, thanks to some well-rigged dynamite, in a booming flash of bravado and showmanship that became this city’s staple —

    April 16, 2014

  • Man accused of abusing 2 girls in 'Maidens Group' MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Authorities were searching Tuesday for a self-professed minister accused of sexually abusing at least two girls in a "Maidens Group" at his religious fellowship in rural Minnesota, where he told one victim she would remain a virgin

    April 15, 2014

  • Deputy shot, wounded in Norman County PERLEY, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say a 19-year-old man from Fertile is under arrest for shooting a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop in northwestern Minnesota. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the Norman County deputy was wear

    April 15, 2014

  • Red River Valley touted as drone industry center THIEF RIVER FALLS (AP) — Dozens of representatives from agriculture, aviation and higher education are meeting in northwestern Minnesota to discuss ways to promote the region as a center for development of the aircraft industry which produces unmanne

    April 15, 2014

  • Balancing Act: The secret weapon behind work life balance We all struggle for work life balance, but most of us don’t realize that sometimes the path toward achieving might be something so simple. Some of the most successful people I know are sharing their secret weapon for remaining strong and finding bal

    April 15, 2014

  • Police: Suspected killers wore GPS devices ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Two convicted sex offenders dutifully checked in with police every month and wore their GPS trackers around the clock — the rules of parole that are designed to tip off authorities if a freed felon backslides. Yet for at least

    April 15, 2014

  • More US consumers are seeking medical care, report shows A historic slowdown in U.S. health care spending in recent years may be drawing to a close. An industry report published this week and health care experts point to a steady rise in medical care being sought by consumers seeing specialists, getting m

    April 15, 2014

  • Man sentenced to 20 years in synthetic drug case FARGO, N.D. (AP) — One of 15 people to plead guilty in a synthetic drug conspiracy that resulted in the overdose deaths of two teenagers has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Casey Rosen (row-ZEEN') pleaded guilty in January 2013 to conspiracy to

    April 14, 2014