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Dayton seeks health insurance purchase extension

ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who buy individual health insurance policies have until Tuesday, Jan. 31, to enroll for coverage this year, unless federal officials allow more time.

The governor and a key health care senator have asked the Trump administration to give Minnesotans more time.

The Obama administration rejected a similar ask by fellow Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton. But state officials hope the new Republican administration will be more willing to consider it.

Dayton said this week that if he and legislators approve premium relief this week, "it should make a big difference" in how many Minnesotans buy insurance. However, he had no estimate about how many people have been waiting to buy policies until state leaders agree on a relief package.

Massive premium and deductible increases have scared an unknown number of Minnesotans who do not have insurance. State leaders said they think that once premium relief passes, many of those people will buy insurance.

The state-run MNsure health insurance sales site is prepared for a big increase in enrollment as the deadline nears, Dayton said.

The governor sent a letter to acting secretary Norris Cochran of the federal Health and Human Services Department seeking an extension until Feb. 28.

"Given the challenges we have faced in the individual market, Minnesotans would benefit from this extra time to find and enroll in health coverage that best meets their needs," Dayton wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, also has requested an extension.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.