Dem governor expresses 'regret' for reaction to ObamaCare criticism

Dem governor expresses 'regret' for reaction to ObamaCare criticism
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Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton expressed “regret” on Friday for the reaction to his recent comments about ObamaCare no longer being affordable for many people.

Dayton’s comments were quickly seized on by Republicans in Washington and beyond. 

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“Last week I said that the Affordable Care Act ‘is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people,’” Dayton said in a statement. “I regret that my statement was wrongly used against Democratic candidates in Minnesota and elsewhere.”

The governor’s original comments last week also blamed a “deadlocked” Congress for failing to make fixes to the law, and Dayton continued on that theme in the statement Friday, noting that there should be some changes on the edges of the law. 

He said he agreed with President Obama’s statement in a speech on Thursday that there are some “legitimate concerns” about how the law is working. 

Dayton said the law is “working” for the 95 percent of Minnesotans who receive health insurance through their job or through Medicare or Medicaid. And he said the law is also working for the 3 percent of Minnesotans receiving financial assistance to help afford their ObamaCare plans. 

But he pointed to the 2 percent of Minnesotans who have individual health insurance plans but make too much income to qualify for ObamaCare’s financial assistance. For those people, he said, “the law isn’t working well.”

Nationwide, Democrats have been acknowledging that there are problems for people who are facing premium increases but don’t qualify for financial assistance. 

About 85 percent of ObamaCare enrollees receive financial assistance, but another 15 percent, as well as around 7 million people who buy individual insurance outside of the law’s marketplaces, are not protected by that assistance. 

Obama on Thursday pointed to his proposal to increase the amount of financial assistance under the law to make insurance more affordable for more people. 

Dayton said Friday that his proposal for his state is to shift $313 million slated for the state’s reserve to be used for new financial assistance for the 120,000 Minnesotans who currently make too much income to qualify for ObamaCare help. 

“The Reserve is intended for ‘Rainy Days,’” Dayton said. “Right now, it is pouring on some Minnesotans.”

He called on leaders in the state legislature in both parties to work out a plan before ObamaCare enrollment begins on Nov. 1. 

–Updated: Oct. 22, 2:20 p.m.