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Letter: MN health insurance premiums are lowest

Today, the Obama Administration released information on premiums in the 36 states where the federal government is setting up health insurance exchanges, along with average premium costs for 47 states. This information confirms that Minnesota will have the lowest average premiums nationwide on plans sold through exchanges.

Minnesota’s weighted average premium for the lowest cost bronze plan is $144, with the average premium for both the lowest cost and second lowest cost silver plans at $192. The weighted average premium does not include potential subsidies (which would further lower premiums).

Premiums for the lowest cost bronze plans among states with federal exchanges range from $174 in Oklahoma to $425 in Wyoming. Silver plans on federal exchanges range from $235 in Tennessee to $489 in Wyoming.

When we were debating this issue on the House floor, we knew we had two options. We could create our own health insurance exchange right here in Minnesota or we could let the federal government build one for us. I think this announcement has shown us that we made the right choice for consumers in Minnesota.

Iowa’s average premiums are $212, $266, and $287 for bronze plans, lowest cost silver plan, and second lowest cost silver plan respectively. North Dakota’s are $281, $350, and $353. South Dakota’s are $298, $341, $357 and Wisconsin’s are $287, $344, and $361.

Nearly $636 million has been repaid to schools.

Governor Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, House Speaker Paul Thissen, Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced that Minnesota schools were repaid an additional $636 million at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

Under the leadership of the DFL legislature, Minnesota has now repaid nearly $2.6 billion of the $2.8 billion that was previously borrowed from our schools.

A decade of cuts, shifts, and gimmicks caused Minnesota to lurch from one budget crisis to the next – limiting the state’s ability to fund education and job creation. This year, the legislature put an end to roller-coaster deficits with a fair and balanced budget that put Minnesota on sound fiscal footing and delivered key investments in education.

As a retired teacher, the school shift was one of the reasons I decided to become more involved in politics in the first place. It hurt our students two years ago and I’m proud to say we’ve almost completely paid it back less than a year after I started in the House.

The new state budget signed into law this spring is projected to begin the next biennium with a surplus. The budget also invested over $600 million in Minnesota’s students – reversing a decade of disinvestment in education. This new funding is directed toward strategies proven to close the achievement gap, raise graduation rates, and improve student career and college readiness.

Rep. Roger Erickson