Congress is back in session this week with a long to-do list to tackle. One of the most talked about items on that list is health care reform. After the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate responded in late June with the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). The fate of the Senate version remains uncertain.
Both bills are meant to improve our nation’s health care system and fix problems in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, while most health care professionals in Minnesota agree that improvements to the health system are needed, they aren’t convinced GOP bills in the House and Senate are the right answers. Below is a roundup of reactions from Minnesota hospitals, providers, advocates and more. But first, here’s some more information on the bills and how they might affect Minnesota from the Department of Human Services:
Minnesota Hospital Association :
On the BCRA: MHA opposes the BCRA and will continue to advocate for preserving coverage for those who have insurance now; meaningful insurance coverage for all Minnesotans; coverage for all essential health care services; and for enhanced public health insurance program payments to providers to cover costs associated with caring for public program participants. MHA will continue to work with Sens. Klobuchar and Franken to protect the interests of Minnesota’s hospitals and the patients they serve, including federal funding for MinnesotaCare, as the Senate considers the BCRA.
On the AHCA: The American Health Care Act (AHCA) in its current form would cut the federal funding that supports the Medicaid expansion and this year funded nearly 90 percent of MinnesotaCare. Thousands of Minnesotans would lose access to meaningful health care coverage, with a sizeable new funding burden falling on the state.
On behalf of our 142 hospitals and health systems, MHA places a priority on preserving health care coverage for low-income Minnesotans. In addition, we want Minnesotans to have meaningful insurance coverage for all essential health care services. We cannot support a return to a system that increases our rate of uninsured; re-creates a reliance on the emergency room; and discourages preventive care, mental health care, routine screenings and other health care throughout a person’s lifetime.
We agree that the ACA is in need of improvement; however, the AHCA is not a solution that will benefit our state or its residents. MHA cannot support the AHCA. We are committed to assisting policymakers in discussing health care legislation that will preserve meaningful health care coverage for Minnesotans.
Minnesota Rural Health Association:
MRHA urges members and other rural health advocates to contact your federal and state legislators! Let them know it is different in rural, and that rural deserves their attention! Rural residents are, on average, older, less wealthy and less healthy than people living in urban areas. That is why cuts in Medicare and Medicaid fall heaviest on rural residents and communities. Tell [your representatives] to oppose the current draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act in the U.S. Senate.
Penny Wheeler, president and CEO of Allina Health and Jamie Gulley, president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota opposed the AHCA in a Star Tribune opinion article:
As presidents of Allina Health and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the union that represents thousands of Allina staff, we’ve worked through challenges in the past, and have not always agreed. However, in this time of great uncertainty, we are in complete agreement on two critical principles: People need health care coverage, and that coverage needs to actually cover the services they need.
We also agree that by this measure, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which already passed the U.S. House, misses the mark on all fronts
Lynn Blewitt, University of Minnesota health policy professor and director of State Health Access Data Assistance Center spoke at a recent forum:
Nursing homes, a lot of them, will probably close because they will not be able to survive if the GOP effort succeeds.
State Health Access Data Assistance Center worries that health care coverage will decline under the AHCA:
Gains in health insurance were particularly strong for groups that have had historically high rates of uninsurance, such as people who identify as Hispanic or Latino. If the ACA is repealed and replaced by a Republican health care reform bill, it is widely expected that these coverage gains will erode or be lost entirely.
Health care experts in Minnesota might be cautious, but here’s one take on why the Senate’s health care bill could prove to be a signature GOP achievement.