CFC introduces event insurance package for Canada

Policy includes coverage for event cancellation, general liability and property
Staff on September 22, 2017

CFC Underwriting has expanded its contingency insurance offering with the launch of a brand new event insurance package policy for its Canadian customers.The new policy includes insurance for instances of event cancellation in addition to general liability and property cover for the event. The event cancellation component is also offered on a standalone basis and covers the costs with an event being cancelled, abandoned, postponed, or relocated for reasons outside of the insured’s control, including the non-appearance of a participant.
Read: CFC Underwriting revamps its cyber insurance product
“Historically, brokers have had to pull a patchwork of policies together to provide their clients with comprehensive cover [for events]. That has changed with the introduction of our new event insurance policy,” said Matt Helm, contingency practice leader at CFC, in a statement. “Our broad package solution provides limits of up to $10 million and gives Canadian brokers and clients a one-stop-shop saving them both time and money.”
CFC’s new product enables organizers to protect the financial investment of their event including everything from agreements with spectators, staff and performers to building and contents damage. Optional extras include cover for terrorism, adverse weather, earthquakes, communicable diseases and non-appearance, according to the company’s announcement.

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An accounting for meteorological violence among U.S. insurers

Both insurers and reinsurers forecasting pessimistic economic outlooks thanks to costs from recent hurricanes
Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press on September 22, 2017

Allstate expects insurance losses of about US$593 million in August after Hurricane Harvey left a path of destruction along the Gulf Coast.The initial accounting Thursday follows warnings from other insurers that are tallying the damages from a hurricane season that is nowhere near being over.
Allstate’s monthly losses, which likely have not been fully accounted for, are more than three times the US$181 million recorded in July before hurricanes devastated islands in the Atlantic and began to strike the U.S.
Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25. More than half the losses from that storm are related to vehicle damage.
The insurer, based just outside of Chicago, says that because of widespread damage and the inability of people to get to their homes or cars, its estimated losses may grow. Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida this month and Allstate has not released its estimates for that storm.
Read: Intact looks to invest $1 million in climate change initiatives
“The key thing is that we’re in the peak of an extremely active hurricane season,” said Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Last week, German reinsurer Munich Re, which covers losses from insurers, was the first to warn that it may not meet previous financial goals following the one-two punch of Harvey and Irma, which made landfall in Florida September 8.
Others have issued more pessimistic outlooks. Travelers Companies Inc. suspended plans to buy back its own stock in order to raise cash. German reinsurer Hanover Re, like Munich Re, said it could miss profit targets.
The Insurance Council of Texas, the nation’s largest state insurance trade association, estimates overall insured losses from Harvey at nearly US$19 billion. That includes an estimate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in which Harvey’s flooding will result in US$11 billion in payments to homeowners with flood insurance. Those flood losses would be the second highest on record, trailing only Hurricane Katrina’s US$16 billion.
Harvey flooded a vast area stretching from Houston to the Louisiana border. The storm caused 70-plus deaths and damaged or destroyed more than 250,000 homes and hundreds of thousands of automobiles.
Read:P&C stable in 2017 but faces significant market pressures: A.M. Best
Irma carved a path of destruction through the Caribbean and then enveloped Florida. CoreLogic, a property data company, expects damage to commercial and residential property from Irma to range from US$42.5 billion to US$65 billion. That estimate includes insured and uninsured losses.
The damage, particularly from Irma, was expected to be much worse and stock in insurance companies, while down, has remained fairly flat over the past month, and many are up sharply for the year.
Yet the hurricane season runs through November and on Thursday, the entirety of Puerto Rico was without power and besieged by landslides and floods after Hurricane Marie slammed into the island as the third-strongest recorded storm to make landfall in the U.S.
In an updated forecast last month, NOAA said there could be up to 19 named storms and up to nine hurricanes in the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico this year. Half of those hurricanes could be major, according to NOAA.
So far there have been 13 named storms, with four major hurricanes.

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How Home Values Track with High, Low Risk of Natural Hazards: ATTOM Data

Americans are still buying homes in areas with high risk of natural hazards and the homes in those cities continue to appreciate in value far faster than homes in low natural hazard locales.
However, the effect on home values of living in a high risk area is being felt in two high risk states — Florida and Louisiana— where home values are not rising as fast as in lower risk cities.
The 2017 U.S. Natural Hazard Housing Risk Index by the property analytics firm ATTOM Data Solutions found that median home prices in U.S. cities in the top 20 percent of highest risk for natural hazards have increased more than twice as fast over the past five years and over the past 10 years than median home prices in U.S cities in the bottom 20 percent with lowest risk.
For the report ATTOM indexed natural hazard risk in more than 3,000 counties and more than 22,000 U.S. cities based on the risk of six natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, hail, hurricane storm surge, tornadoes, and wildfires. ATTOM also analyzed housing trends in 3,441 cities and 735 counties — containing more than 71 million single family homes and condos — broken into five equal quintiles of natural hazard housing risk (see full methodology below).
Median home prices in cities in the top 20 percent (Very High) for natural hazard risk have appreciated 65 percent on average over the past five years and 9 percent on average over the past 10 years while median home prices cities in the bottom 20 percent (Very Low) for natural hazard risk have appreciated 32 percent on average over the past five years and 3 percent on average over the past 10 years.
“Strong demand for homes in high-risk natural hazard areas has helped to accelerate price appreciation in those areas over the past decade despite the potential for devastating damage to homes that can be caused by a natural disaster — as evidenced by the recent hurricanes that made landfall in Texas and Florida,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “That strong demand is driven largely by economic fundamentals, primarily the presence of good-paying jobs, although the natural beauty that often comes hand-in-hand with high natural hazard risk in these areas is also attractive to many homebuyers.”
However, the home values trend does not hold up in two states areas that have been hit hard by storms and flooding as well as rising flood insurance prices.
“There is some evidence in the data that real estate consumers in certain areas are beginning to more heavily factor natural hazard risk into their decisions, particularly when it comes to flood risk,” Blomquist added. “Counter to the national trend, home price appreciation is slower in Florida and Louisiana cities with the highest flood risk than in cities with the lowest flood risk.”
Source: ATTOM Data Solutions

In the state of Florida, median home prices in cities with the highest flood risk were up 8 percent on average from a year ago and up 66 percent from five years ago while median prices in cities with the lowest flood risk were up 10 percent from a year ago and 70 percent from five years ago.
Median home prices in Florida cities with the highest hurricane storm surge risk were up 8 percent from a year ago and 47 percent from five years ago, while median prices in cities with the lowest hurricane storm surge risk were up 11 percent from a year ago and up 67 percent from five years ago.
There was a similar trend in relation to flood risk in the state of Louisiana, which experienced damaging floods in August 2016. Median home prices in Louisiana cities with the highest flood risk were down 20 percent from a year ago and up 2 percent from five years ago while median home prices in the lowest risk cities increased 5 percent over the past year and increased 37 percent over the past five years.
Home Equity
Homeowners in cities in the top 20 percent for natural hazard risk have 32 percent home equity on average compared to 21 percent home equity on average for homeowners in cities in the bottom 20 percent for natural hazard risk.
Seriously underwater homes (with a loan-to-value ratio of 125 percent or higher) account for 6.4 percent of all homes in cities in the top 20 percent for natural hazard risk compared to a seriously underwater rate of 9.9 percent on average for homes in cities in the bottom 20 percent for natural hazard risk.
Highest Hazard Risk Cities and Counties
According to ATTOM Data’s 2017 U.S. Natural Hazard Housing Risk Index, among the 735 U.S. counties included in the housing trends analysis, those with the highest overall natural hazard index were Oklahoma County, Oklahoma; Wakulla County (Tallahassee), Florida; Monroe County (Key West), Florida; Cleveland County (Oklahoma City), Oklahoma; and Nevada County (Truckee), California.
Among 50 U.S. cities included in the analysis with a population of at least 500,000, those with the highest overall natural hazard housing risk index were Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; San Jose, California; Los Angeles, California; Bakersfield, California; and Seattle, Washington.
Lowest Hazard Risk Cities and Counties
Among the 735 U.S. counties included in the housing trends analysis, those with the lowest overall natural hazard index were Milwaukee County (Milwaukee), Wisconsin; Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio; Muskegon County (Muskegon), Michigan; and Lake County (Cleveland), Ohio.
Among 50 U.S. cities included in the analysis with a population of at least 500,000, those with the lowest overall natural hazard housing risk index were Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; Buffalo, New York; Orlando, Florida; and Brooklyn, New York.

Index Methodology
ATTOM Data Solutions is the curator of the ATTOM Data Warehouse, a multi-sourced national property database that blends property tax, deed, mortgage, foreclosure, environmental risk, natural hazard, health hazards, neighborhood characteristics and other property characteristic data for more than 150 million U.S. residential and commercial properties.
For its fourth annual Natural Hazard Housing Risk Index, ATTOM Data Solutions indexed more than 3,000 U.S. counties and more than 22,000 U.S. cities based on risk of six natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, hail, hurricane storm surge, tornadoes and wildfires. ATTOM also analyzed home sales and price trends in 735 counties and more than 3,400 cities with sufficient property data.
A risk index was created for each of the six natural hazards in each city and count with natural hazard data available. Each natural hazard index was divided into five categories of risk: Very High, High, Moderate, Low and Very Low based on a severity scale. Those six natural hazard indexes were summed to create a Total Natural Hazard Index. The maximum index for each category of risk is 60, and the maximum possible total index score is 360.
For the home sales and price trends analysis, the indexes in 735 counties and 3,441 cities were split into five equal groups (quintiles) matching the aforementioned five categories of risk.
Flood zone data is based on flood zones created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the level of risk was based on the percentage of homes in each county located in high-risk flood zones: A, A99, AE, AH, A.
Earthquake data is from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the level of risk was based on the probability of a magnitude 5.0 earthquake in each county.
Tornado data is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and level of risk was based on the Destruction Potential Index (DPI) for each county. DPI is calculated using number of tornados, path of tornados in square miles, and intensity of tornados on the Fujita scale (FO to F5).
Wildfire data is from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and Fire Modeling Institute, and risk level is based on the percentage of homes in each county located in “Very High” or “High” Wildfire Hazard Potential (WHP) areas.
Hurricane storm surge data is from FEMA and the National Hurricane Center (NHC), and risk level is based on the percentage of homes located in flood zones identified as having a risk of “storm-induced waves”: V and VE.
Hail data is from NOAA and the risk level is based on the average number of hail storms per year in each county with hail that exceeds 1-inch in size over the past 15 years.
Source: ATTOM Data Solutions

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Ratings of Illinois’ Prime Insurance Company Upgraded

A.M. Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “a” from “a-” of Prime Insurance Company (PIC) in Chicago, Ill.
The outlook of these ratings has been revised to stable from positive.
The ratings apply to PIC and are based on the consolidation of PIC and its wholly owned subsidiary, Prime Property & Casualty Insurance Inc. (PP&C), collectively known as Prime Insurance Group (Prime).
The rating upgrades are based on the group’s continued excellent underwriting profitability and strong risk-adjusted capitalization to support new growth initiatives in its specialty insurance niche focused on the excess and surplus (E&S) lines market.
Underwriting and claims management under its proprietary working model have generated historically strong profitability and loss experience, facilitated by partnership with reinsurance partners who purchase capital directly to profit share in results, while enhancing Prime’s financial flexibility via favorable quota share arrangements.
The outlooks reflect A.M. Best’s expectations that initiatives will continue to be well-managed.
The ratings reflect Prime’s supportive capitalization, favorable operating profitability, demonstrated underwriting acumen and partnership with RLI Insurance Co. via reinsurance and equity ownership, and the concurrent reduction in financial leverage at the parent company, Prime Holdings Insurance Services, Inc.
These positive attributes are partially offset by Prime’s fluctuating premium volume, typical of an opportunistic E&S underwriting company that looks for under-served areas in the insurance market.
Positive rating action is unlikely in the near term. In the medium term, positive rating action could occur if Prime continues its excellent underwriting profitability or if it materially improves its risk-adjusted capitalization.
Negative rating action could occur if it experiences significant weakness in underwriting performance trends or a material reduction in capitalization adequacy due to weak underwriting results or excessive growth.
Source: A.M. Best

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Ohio Increases Fines Against Pipeline Developer to $2.3M

Ohio’s environmental regulators have more than doubled the proposed fines against a company building a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Michigan, saying the two sides are at an impasse.
The fines now stand at $2.3 million and stem from what the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says are numerous water and air pollution violations during construction of the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline.
The twin pipelines are being built across Ohio to carry natural gas from Appalachian shale fields to Canada and states in the Midwest and the South.
Dallas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners, which also was behind the Dakota Access oil pipeline, has resisted attempts at resolving the fines, said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency.
Butler said he is now asking the state’s attorney general to get involved.
Energy Transfer Partners said it will continue to work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to meet its requirements.
The federal commission that oversees gas pipelines this week gave the company the approval to restart drilling operations. New drilling on unfinished sections had been halted after 2 million gallons (7.6 million liters) of drilling mud seeped into a wetland in the spring.
Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Alexis Daniel said the project now is expected to be completed and operating by the end of March.
The head of the Ohio EPA said the pipeline company doesn’t think the state has authority to impose regulations because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission already gave the company approval on the project.
“That really is the heart of the matter,” Butler said.
The developer has complied with orders to begin plans to clean up and restore wetlands that were coated with drilling mud, remove mud contaminated with diesel fuel from two quarries and monitor water wells near those sites, Butler said.
But he said the company is refusing the state’s directive to obtain storm water pollution permits.
Ohio’s environmental regulators and farmers say there have been problems with flooded fields since construction crews began laying pipe in March to meet the company’s initial plan of finishing the project by November.
Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Jump in Energy Contract Lawsuits Expected in Harvey’s Wake

Lawyers expect a spate of force majeure contract lawsuits after Hurricane Harvey tore through Southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana last month, paralyzing a fifth of U.S. fuel output and pushing some oil production offline.
Hurricanes and other natural disasters can affect the energy industry’s ability to honor contracts related to oil and natural gas production, transport and oilfield services.
Force majeure is a legal declaration that means the operator cannot fulfill a contract due to circumstances outside its control.
Damage in Texas wrought by Harvey is estimated at around $180 billion, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, with some of that in the oil-rich Eagle Ford shale region southwest of Houston.
While the full extent of Harvey’s effect on the Gulf Coast energy industry is still being tabulated, damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 shut in more than 8 billion cubic feet of gas production and 1.5 million barrels per day of oil production.
Hurricane Ike, which came less than a month after Hurricane Gustav in 2008, had a similar effect on oil and gas production and disrupted the chemical industry, leading some companies to declare force majeure of certain products and supplies.
Many chemical and refinery plants along the U.S. Gulf Coast have already restarted operations or are beginning to ramp up after damage by Harvey. Once they do, customers may insist on reviewing contractual terms with their energy industry suppliers for the product they did not receive while plants were shuttered.
Force majeure issues typically arise in both contract lawsuits and tort suits, which allege negligence, said Jessica Crutcher, an attorney for Houston law firm Meyer Brown.
“Every force majeure clause is different, especially when you’re dealing with heavily negotiated contracts in the energy sector,” she said on Tuesday during a force majeure webinar sponsored by the law firm.
In tort disputes, defendants can best defend themselves if they took every reasonable effort to protect their property from storm damage or other factors, according to Crutcher.
Force majeure notices should clearly outline a connection between Harvey and the reason for making the notice.
“Failure of a notice is fatal to a defense,” she said.
But not every consequence of a force majeure declaration should be viewed as being automatically tied to Harvey, attorney Mike Lennon said.
“Disclose any latent issues in the force majeure declaration and connect it to the Harvey event,” he said.
Reporting by Bryan Sims; Editing by Ernest Scheyder and Jonathan Oatis

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U.S. and EU Sign Covered Agreement on Insurance Regulation

The United States and European Union have scheduled a ceremony for today for the signing of a bilateral agreement on prudential insurance and reinsurance measures.
Both sides announced in July their intention to sign the agreement, also known as a covered agreement in the U.S.
The parties believe the agreement represents a step forward in U.S. – EU cooperation on insurance and reinsurance. In a joint statement, they said it conveys “benefits to EU and U.S. insurers and reinsurers operating across the Atlantic by offering them regulatory certainty, while maintaining consumer protections.”
The agreement was negotiated by the Obama Administration in talks that began in 2015. It was announced on January 13, 2017 in the final days of the previous administration.
The agreement – which is a “covered agreement” in the meaning of the Dodd-Frank Act and an agreement under Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – addresses three areas of insurance oversight: reinsurance; group supervision; and the exchange of insurance information between supervisors.
(The final legal text of the U.S. – EU covered agreement is available here and the text of the U.S. policy statement is available here.)
With regard to reinsurance, it will “eliminate collateral and local presence requirements for EU and U.S. reinsurers operating in each other’s markets.”
Regarding group supervision, U.S. and EU insurers operating in the other’s markets “will only be subject to worldwide insurance group oversight by supervisors in their home jurisdiction.”
The agreement also encourages insurance supervisory authorities in the U.S. and the EU to continue to exchange supervisory information on insurers and reinsurers that operate in the U.S. and EU markets and it includes model information sharing memorandum of understanding provisions.
In their joint statement, the parties said they will now move forward to provisional application. The European Union will take the necessary steps, involving the Council and the European Parliament pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to formally conclude the agreement.
In January, the U.S. Treasury Department released a fact sheet on the agreement and said the final legal text of the agreement had been given to Congress as required by the Dodd-Frank Act.
Following the announcement of the signing, Cristina Mihai, head of prudential regulation and international affairs at Insurance Europe, issued a statement:
“Insurance Europe welcomes the signing of the EU-US bilateral agreement on (re)insurance, and appreciates the significant work and effort by the European institutions and member states over the past two years in the negotiation of this agreement and then in the legislative process ahead of it being signed.”
Several major U.S. insurance organizations including the American Insurance Association (AIA), the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and the Reinsurance Association of America (RAA) have in the past welcomed the agreement, as have the International Underwriting Association, which represents wholesale re/insurance companies in the London market.
However, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) has not been as welcoming of a covered agreement. It has called the pact “a proposed solution to an invented problem – the question of European regulators deeming our regulatory system equivalent.”
State insurance regulators have also expressed concern that a covered agreement could potentially undermine the U.S. system of state regulation of insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has been critical of the agreement, warning that it might be used as a “backdoor to force foreign regulations on U.S. companies.”
Another state regulatory group, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), has also criticized the pact. NCOIL CEO Tom Considine, speaking at the Super Regional P/C Insurer Conference in Wisconsin in July, termed the agreement “great for Wall Street and horrible for Main Street.”

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Researchers: FEMA’s Houston Flood Maps Outdated Long Before Harvey

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood plain maps for parts of southeastern Houston were woefully out-of-date long before Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast, a new study suggests.
Researchers at Rice University and Texas A&M University at Galveston studied one section of southeastern Harris County, which includes Houston, over a decade-long period that did not include Hurricane Harvey but did include other major storms, including Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.
According to their research, FEMA’s flood plain maps for that area missed about 75 percent of the damages from Ike, Allison, and three other storms.
The maps are intended to predict which areas have a 1 percent chance in a given year of major rain damage, an event known as a “100-year flood.” They determine which homeowners have to buy flood insurance and are intended to give prospective buyers a warning of the risk of flooding.
“There’s a lot of people that are likely in the flood plain that don’t know the risk,” said Russell Blessing, a Texas A&M-Galveston graduate student who is one of the study’s co-authors. “And if it’s new construction, their home may not be built to an adequate standard.”
Blessing and other researchers studied the watershed around Armand Bayou, running through southeastern Houston and several suburbs, including Pasadena and Deer Park. Armand is part of the system of bayous and reservoirs that’s designed to drain water out of Houston, which is the nation’s fourth-largest city and is situated near the Gulf of Mexico.
Much of Houston’s flood-control infrastructure is decades old and long been criticized by experts who say it doesn’t come close to meeting the demands of a fast-growing metropolis and economic center. The mass flooding caused by Harvey was the third flood at a “100-year” level in just three years.
The study recommends adopting new methods of modeling flooding that would better include areas that are currently missed by flood maps.
FEMA did not respond to a request for comment.
Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Minnesota Gov. Cranks Up Pressure on Feds to Protect Health Programs

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton blasted federal health officials on Sept. 20 for holding up approval of a program meant to lower health insurance costs and threatening millions of dollars in cuts to health care for the working poor.
State lawmakers tackled a precarious health insurance market on their own this year, creating a $542 million reinsurance pool to help lower costs for 2018 after years of inflating premiums for shoppers who buy coverage on their own. But Minnesota is one of just two states to also offer a so-called basic health program — covering low-income residents with the help of extra federal dollars — and it’s causing the state problems.
Despite assurances that final signoff would come by August, state officials are still awaiting formal approval as open enrollment fast approaches. And after working closely with the federal Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that the state’s other health programs wouldn’t be affected, Dayton’s administration revealed this week that President Donald Trump’s administration planned to cut almost $370 million from that low-income health coverage.
The Democratic governor called the situation a nightmare, saying the holdup in approval could cause premiums for 2018 to jump an estimated 20 percent. And he said the federal government has been little help in addressing his concerns.
“I can’t get the secretary of Health and Human Services on the telephone. I can’t even get a phone number to call him on,” Dayton said.
Minnesota’s issues are largely separate from the ongoing effort in Congress to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But that makes them no less pressing.
Open enrollment begins Nov. 1, but MNsure — the state’s health insurance exchange — needs to start loading information for 2018’s health plans into its systems much sooner. Health insurance rates are set to be finalized Oct. 2.
Other officials are adding to the pressure on the nation’s top federal health agency. Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on Sept. 19 she urged Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to approve the waiver immediately.
A spokeswoman for the federal agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dayton and others were clearly flummoxed by the Trump administration’s sudden move to cut a sizable chunk of federal funding for MinnesotaCare. State officials worked with the federal agency to write the reinsurance bill, saying they were repeatedly assured that it would not result in any cuts to federal funding.
But Dayton’s administration said that changed last week when they were informed — with little explanation — that the state would lose roughly $369 million in funding for the next two years. Dayton sent Price a letter Tuesday asking him to reconsider.
The governor wouldn’t answer whether he thought those cuts were politically motivated. Any changes to MinnesotaCare funding wouldn’t impact its roughly 100,000 low-income enrollees until at least 2019.
Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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