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Dayton switches on health plans

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton changed his mind Monday about whether Minnesotans should be able to keep their existing health insurance plans.

Last week, Dayton praised fellow Democratic President Barack Obama for his effort to allow Americans to keep their current policies, something the president promised while lobbying for health reform legislation.

On Monday, however, Dayton said that 140,000 Minnesotans whose policies were set to change will have to deal with that change because there is not time before Jan. 1 to rewrite the policies and the state to approve them.

Dayton wrote a letter to Executive Director Julie Brunner of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, who earlier had told the governor, saying that it was too late to change course.

“While I support the president's intent and applaud him for creating this option, I also respect that your members' ability to implement these changes would be crucial to their success,” Dayton wrote. “Your letter raises serious concerns that these changes would create confusion in the marketplace, while leaving Minnesotans with fewer affordable health care options.”

The governor said he ordered Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to continue as planned before Obama’s comments.

In many states, insurance companies planned to cancel existing plans as new laws begin. Minnesota insurers are not allowed to outright cancel plans, but 140,000 Minnesotans received notices that their policies would change next year because of the federal laws.

Obama left it up to states to decide whether to allow existing policies continue even if they violated the letter of the law.

Dayton said the MNsure, Minnesota’s online insurance marketplace, offers options to existing health plans.

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