ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Republicans in Minnesota viewed the Supreme Court ruling Thursday upholding nationwide tax subsidies for health insurance as an opening to shift from the state's own exchange to the federal marketplace.
The prospect that the subsidies would be eliminated had put in question the fate of the federal insurance marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act. That would not have greatly affected Minnesota, which was among the minority of states that set up their own exchanges. The Supreme Court's ruling allows the subsidies to continue flowing to consumers who shop through the HealthCare.gov site.
Though Republican lawmakers have frequently criticized the MNsure exchange and the health care law as a whole, Rep. Tara Mack lauded Thursday's ruling as a good one — both for protecting subsidies in other states and providing an avenue to abolish MNsure.
House Republicans had led an attempt to abolish MNsure and move to the federal marketplace by 2017 in this year's legislative session. But that proposal stalled amid Democrats' resistance and concerns over the federal marketplace's fate.
With that doubt cleared, Mack, an Apple Valley Republican who chairs a powerful health and human services committee, said Minnesota lawmakers should ditch MNsure and shift much of the technical and administrative burden of signing up residents for health care to the federal portal.
"I'm hoping that with this ruling, there's an appetite to really look at a better way of moving forward because what we have just is not working," Mack said.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has acknowledged the exchange's financial and technical problems but said Thursday officials need to give MNsure more time to prove it's viable. He said a new task force, created this year to craft a report in January about MNsure's future and Minnesota's health care system more broadly, will provide much-needed information on whether the exchange can succeed.
"I don't think we'll answer that for a couple years," he said.