Here’s where MN delegation stands on health bill

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, March 15, 2017

By Cody Nelson, Nancy Lebens and Bill Catlin FM

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday the Republican bill could cost the state “$2 billion in federal funds for Medicaid and MinnesotaCare within 18 months.”

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The governor, a Democrat, added the cuts could affect more than a million children, seniors and people with disabilities.

Congress’ nonpartisan budget analysts released their findings Monday on the Republicans’ bill to overhaul the nation’s health care law.

The American Health Care Act would have 14 million people becoming uninsured by next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. In a decade, the uninsured number would hit 24 million.

Here’s what MPR News has heard from Minnesotans in Congress about the CBO’s report, either in interviews or statements. We’ll update as we hear from others.

Tim Walz, DFL, First District

Walz told MPR News he’s waiting to hear from constituents before before taking a final position on the House Republicans’ health care overhaul.

However, citing the CBO estimate, he said the bill is clearly not a great fix for the problems with the Affordable Care Act.

“The CBO numbers did confirm where I think many people were at — that this did not address the problems that were gaps in the ACA,” Walz said, “and it goes and turns back some of the positive progress we made with ACA specifically getting people coverage.”

Walz said the calls coming into his office favor fixing what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act rather than moving to a new policy that’s so dramatically different.

Erik Paulsen, GOP, Third District

Paulsen said in an interview that the bill could help bring premium costs down and encourage more young, healthy people to buy in. And in the short term, under a repeal and replace of Obamacare, people will still have insurance.

“You’re still going to have the exchanges there. You’re still going to have Medicaid expanding, and there are even another 2 million people that are going to choose not to buy health insurance even if they can do so at work,” Paulsen said. “The main thing is about affordable health care coverage as opposed to just insurance coverage.”

Jason Lewis, GOP, Second District

Lewis, a freshman representative, noted in a statement that the Republican health bill would decrease premiums for Minnesotans and save hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars nationwide.

“This bill is about bringing back choice to the patient, and empowering you to pick a health care plan that actually works for your family,” his statement reads.

Betty McCollum, DFL, Fourth District

McCollum said in a statement the CBO report “confirms that Congressional Republicans and President Trump’s health care bill is a mean-spirited and callous prescription for disaster.”

She cited the proposed cuts to Medicaid and the restrictions to women’s health care.

Keith Ellison, DFL, Fifth District

Ellison said there are discrepancies between President Trump’s campaign statements on health care reform and the bill being debated now.

Trump’s support for the bill, Ellison said in a statement, “leaves no doubt that he is just as bad as Congressional Republicans — harming millions of working Americans in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.”

Sen. Al Franken, DFL

In a statement, Franken said the CBO estimate shows that the Republicans’ plan will hurt people across the country, noting the millions of people projected to lose coverage under the bill.

“It would also drive up costs for seniors, put rural hospitals and nursing facilities at-risk of closure, limit access to providers, and jeopardize tens of thousands of health care jobs in Minnesota,” Franken’s statement reads. “It would also end Medicaid as we know it. All of this is unacceptable.”