"The heart of it is that we will go out of business. Ninety-eight percent of our revenue is helping people with their health insurance. If you take 98 percent of your revenue away, you no longer exist."
That is the fear of independent insurance agent Sandra Schlaefer as the Dayton Administration moves to implement Obamacare in Minnesota. Insurance agents across Minnesota are growing more upset with how the Dayton Administration is building Obamacare’s health care exchange and are increasingly unsure of what it means for their jobs.
It didn’t have to be this way.
Back in 2010, Representative Peggy Scott proposed an amendment that would have protected insurance agents and their employees from losing their jobs because of Obamacare. Democrats, eager to embrace the health care law no matter what, voted it down.
“No insurance agent or an employee of the agent shall suffer a job loss, reduction in profit, or loss of business as a result of state implementation of the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the health care reform provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010."
It’s not just individuals and families who rely on insurance agents to help find coverage, small businesses do as well:
Almost all small businesses use agents when buying health insurance coverage, Merz said, adding that agents often serve as the human resource departments for companies that aren't big enough to handle the chores themselves.
Had the proposal to protect jobs passed, Minnesotans who help families and businesses buy insurance would not have had to worry about losing their jobs. Instead that is exactly the fear they now face. All because of Democrats’ single-minded focus on imposing Obamacare no matter the cost. Even if the cost is jobs.
Citing lack of reform and unsustainable status quo, Republicans on the Subcommittee on Employee Relations today voted to reject the tentative contract agreements negotiated by Governor Mark Dayton and two of the state’s largest unions ‐ American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE).
“We have communicated our expectations for new contracts to Governor Dayton since January,” said Senator Mike Parry (R‐Waseca), Chair of the Subcommittee on Employee Relations. " We support salary increases. However, as we have stated many times, we would like to see performance as a determining factor in salary increases. The time to reform government costs and accountability is now."
“Wage increases based on seniority are a poor proxy for rewarding performance,” said Representative Steve Drazkowski (R‐Mazeppa), Vice‐Chair of the Subcommittee on Employee Relations. “Minnesota can no longer afford to reward people based on how long they have been in state service. A 7 to 9 percent increase in salary is simply unsustainable, particularly looking into the next biennium.”
“State employees have long benefitted from a broad, high cost health insurance plan that requires no premium contribution for individual coverage,” Representative Drazkowski said. “We agree with Governor Dayton’s initial position of requiring employees to pay a percentage of their health insurance premiums. The fiscal pressures facing our state require a change in state benefits plans. Health insurance premiums should align with private sector and be cost‐shared by employer and employee.”
“If Governor Dayton and the unions are able to present tentative contracts that contain the performance‐based wage increases and employee contribution to health insurance premiums, we are confident the Subcommittee on Employee Relations would be in a position to grant interim legislative approval,” Senator Parry said.
“The Court’s rulings today affirm the Legislature’s constitutional role in passing amendments. The Legislature carefully and with due deliberation wrote the amendments and their titles to be fair and straightforward for voters. I am pleased the Court upheld the constitutional authority of the Legislature to put amendments on the ballot.“Secretary Ritchie’s attempt to rewrite the law to affect the outcome of a vote has been rightly stopped. He is supposed to be an impartial administrator of our elections. The restraint imposed on him by the court shows that he cannot put his own partisan feelings aside and fulfill his role objectively."
The Minnesota Legislature meets in session today to take up the Disaster Relief bill. The $167.5 million bill will help communities impacted by severe flooding and windstorms in June and July rebuild and recover. The bill also continues our GOP focus on reform - changing how government operates to demand accountability and protect taxpayer dollars. Reforms included in the bill are:
- Any money not spent returns to the General Fund;
- Recovery loan repayments are provided to the state and deposited into a special fund designated for future disaster relief rather than going to cities and counties;
- Stricter requirements and accountabiltiy for loans provided by the Minnesota Investment Fund;
- Disaster relief funds provided by the Minnesota Investment Fund dollars can only be used for recovery, not additional economic development projects.
- Temporarily change to the budget reserve funding formula to ensure that using reserve funds for disaster relief does not impede paying back the school shift.