It’s hardly surprising that the Star Tribune’s March 15 editorial, “A dose of reality for GOP health plan,” jumped at any reason to preserve the status quo in Minnesota’s dysfunctional health care markets. After all, no one campaigned harder to bring Obamacare and MNSure to the state than this newspaper.
But defending the ability of insurance companies, as the Editorial Board does, to overcharge young, healthy adults who take care of themselves seems not to have convinced DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. He stated last fall that the Affordable Care Act was “no longer affordable,” just after the state’s commerce commissioner admitted that MNSure was in an “emergency” situation.
The Editorial Board must be hoping readers have short memories.
In fact, it’s gotten so dire that the state Legislature had to pass a $310 million bill this year just to keep things marginally afloat. It’s hard to make the case about folks losing insurance under our bill when thousands of Minnesotans — myself included — lost their plans since 2010 as a direct result of Obamacare. And those who have been able to find a plan on the dwindling exchange have seen back-to-back price increases of over 50 percent.
Citing the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score as the latest reason to oppose health care reform poses difficulties. First, the CBO report finds that most of the projected drop in coverage is attributable to repealing the individual mandate and no longer forcing people to purchase government-directed coverage. If removing a mandate to purchase something means fewer people do, surely there’s something wrong with the original product.
Moreover, CBO’s track record is far from perfect when it comes to economic predictions. About four years ago CBO predicted 24 million would get coverage under the ACA in 2016, but actual numbers last year were just 10.4 million enrollments.
Nevertheless, if we’re looking at CBO numbers, it’s worth noting that the authors also said the American Health Care Act would:
• Lower premiums by 10 percent.
• Reduce the deficit by $337 billion.
• Make an inflation-adjusted, per capita allotment for Medicaid, saving taxpayers $880 billion in future payments.
• Lower taxes by $883 billion, providing enormous tax relief for middle-class families and small businesses.
• And, most importantly, increase choices so people can choose the plan they actually want.
That’s why I voted for the plan in this week’s Budget Committee. You see, I made a promise that I would repeal and replace Obamacare. The AHCA is the first step toward keeping that promise.
This plan represents the first of three steps we will take to undo the damage of Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms and universal access to affordable health care.
My vote was for the thousands of Minnesotans that Obamacare hit with huge premium increases. It was for the 800,000 Minnesotans who do not have health insurance choices. And it was for all the Minnesotans who lost a doctor they liked, and a plan that worked for their family.
This common-sense plan eliminates the taxes that the Democrats threw into Obamacare — including the taxes on over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, and medical devices. It abolishes the individual and the employer mandate penalties — essentially new taxes — and restores health care choices.
Additionally, our plan brings equity in tax treatment. What Republican or Democrat thinks corporations should be able to claim tax breaks for health care, but that individuals shouldn’t be allowed the same opportunity?
The AHCA more than equalizes the tax treatment of health insurance, by allowing your family a refundable tax credit for health insurance purchases.
And yes, the AHCA modernizes Medicaid so it can focus on the most vulnerable, as it was intended to, and not pay states to divert these resources toward able-bodied adults with no kids. Even the Mayo Clinic has now announced that it “will give preference to patients with private insurance over those with lower-paying Medicaid …”
And the Star Tribune wants to keep the status quo?
The choice is clear. Real reforms that will restore health care markets, or a never-ending spiral toward the government dictating the kind of insurance you have to buy — which has turned out to mean affordable health care for just a few.
Jason Lewis, a Republican, represents Minnesota’s second congressional district in the U.S. House.