The fight continue for quality, affordable health care for ALL
It has only been one month since the beginning of the new Congress and the state legislative session, and a lot has happened in that time — both good and bad.
In Washington, the good news is that many members of Congress are nervous about repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, and they still have no real good idea on how they will replace it. 30 million Americans stand to lose access to health care if the ACA is repealed. After an original goal to pass a repeal and have it on President Trump’s desk by inauguration day, the soonest they will now vote on repeal is the end of February, and it may be as late as early April.
The pressure that we have put on our members of Congress to oppose repeal is working, and we need to keep it up! Congress has a week of recess from February 20-24, and most members will be back in their districts. Watch our calendar for details on upcoming events.
Later this year, the House and Senate are also likely to push for a much larger, more devastating attack on Medicaid that would cut funding by as much as ⅓ by the end of a decade (called “block granting” or “per capita caps”) and lead to serious cuts to health care for low-income families and long term care. You can read more about what this would mean for Minnesota here. This will be a big, big fight that we need to win.
A lot has happened at our state capitol, too. Last week, Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill that will provide immediate financial assistance to over 100,000 Minnesotans who cannot afford the prices being charged by Minnesota’s non-profit health insurance companies in the individual market. People buying individual coverage will see a one-time 25% premium reduction for 2017.
Unfortunately, Minnesota House and Senate leaders refused to agree to this assistance without also making other dangerous changes to state health insurance policies, including allowing for-profit health insurance companies to sell insurance in Minnesota. With that decision, legislators broke a long-standing principle of our health care system and sent the message that it is OK for shareholders to profit from the illness and suffering of others.
Legislative leaders also want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize Minnesota insurance companies through something called “reinsurance.” This is a huge giveaway to corporate insurers that are sitting on billions of dollars in “reserves” — what you and I would call profits. We need to stop propping up a system of broken, market-driven corporate insurance and instead invest in what works.
Thankfully, Governor Dayton has also proposed to make MinnesotaCare a public option available to all Minnesotans buying insurance in the individual market, as part of his budget. This is a huge opportunity for us to get more people access to a long-standing, successful and popular public health care program, and we need to make sure this happens this year. More on this soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.