Rep. Kelly Fenton viewpoint: Individual market rates released

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The start of October came with some great news for Minnesotans who purchase their own health insurance. The Minnesota Department of Commerce released final rates for the 2018 individual insurance market, confirming that a number of Republican-led reforms are working. This means that not only have we ended the four-year trend of double-digit premium increases, but we have also brought much-needed stability to the market. Without these reforms, it's estimated that rates would have gone up by 20 percent or more for 2018.

While it seems MNsure and the Affordable Care Act rarely garner good news, 2018 individual market health insurance rates are showing a positive turn around. Affordability, accessibility and choice were the key focus of legislation advanced this session, and I am pleased that these reforms have helped check rising premium costs for Woodbury residents, families and small business owners.

While action on health care at the federal level remains unclear, here in Minnesota we are doing what we can to advance critical reforms.

Met Council audit

Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released their report on Met Council transportation finances, showing a whopping $237 million discrepancy between their financial reporting to the state and federal government.

In their reporting to the federal government in an attempt to secure funding for Southwest Light Rail, they claimed a $152 million balance in their total operating budget, while in contrast, their report to the Legislature earlier this spring showed a deficit of $85 million. This is especially noteworthy because in final budget negotiations, Governor Dayton insisted that $70 million in taxpayer dollars go to the Met Council to help cover their deficit.

I know that many in our community are frustrated by the actions of the Met Council, especially when it comes to accountability and transparency. I was a co-author of legislation this session to reform the Met Council, and will continue to advocate for improvements to this governor-appointed body that has a significant impact on the metro-area.

High school page program

If you know a high school junior interested in politics and state government, encourage them to apply for the week-long House High School Page Program! For four decades, this program has given high school students an opportunity to participate in the legislative process, meet with elected officials, and get an inside look at how state government works. Participation looks great on college resumes too!

The High School Page Program is open to all high school juniors whether they attend public school, private school, charter school or home school. Applications are due by Dec. 1, and more information about the program and how to apply can be found at https://goo.gl/9VKN4j.

I would love to see some Woodbury students participating in the program for the 2018 session!

As always, if you have ideas about what you would like to see happen at the Capitol or need assistance on a matter of state government, I welcome you to contact me. Please don't hesitate to call me at 651-296-1147, email rep.kelly.fenton@house.mn or stop by my office.