I would like to thank U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen for his editorial counterpoint on health policy changes in America (“My health care vote will put Minnesotans back in control,” May 9, responding to “A costly step back for U.S. health care,” May 7). As a cancer survivor (pre-existing condition) and self-employed person who buys health insurance on the individual market, I am following this issue very closely. I don’t agree with Paulsen’s vote in the House last week to “repeal and replace” major parts of the Affordable Care Act, but I appreciate getting some understanding of his reasoning. I fully agree with the sentiment in his closing paragraph: “At the same time, we must continue to have a thoughtful discussion on solutions that will provide high-quality, affordable health care coverage.” I respectfully submit that this is what Paulsen’s constituents have been requesting for years. I know many of his constituents — including fellow cancer survivors and caregivers — who are concerned and want desperately to have “thoughtful discussions” with him, but he will not hold town hall meetings. Please have real dialogue about this issue with your constituents in a truly open forum, congressman. It’s important, it’s serious, and your constituents deserve it.
Karen Laumb, St. Louis Park
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Paulsen’s claptrap counterpoint attempts to justify his support for the health care bill recently passed in the House. Much that he wrote is simply wrong. But what he does not say is more telling. He does not admit that the bill robs Medicaid of $880 billion over the next 10 years, threatening the health of millions of lower-income folks. Along with other changes like conversion of Medicaid into state block grants, health care will be rationed for a good slice of America. Paulsen also remains silent about enormous tax cuts the bill offers to our wealthiest folks. Here is the heart of the bill: a massive transfer of wealth from poorer people to richer people. The perfect Republican bill. Paulsen cannot defend this reverse Robin Hood policy, so his counterpoint just ignores it. Needless to say, he also continues to ignore his constituents, refusing to meet with them in a public setting. No wonder.
Edward Plaster, Edina
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Erik Paulsen is a man of contradictions.
In his counterpoint, he states that the ACA is continuing to have negative impacts on families and “dramatically altered one-sixth of the nation’s economy.” He is correct that the ACA needs more work, and that health care is a large component of our economy. This makes me wonder why he then voted on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could issue a score to show the impact this new bill could have. A self-professed “math guy” should have waited to see how the new bill would affect his constituents, and all Americans, before voting.
Another contradiction comes from his stance on coverage for pre-existing conditions. He is on record as saying he wouldn’t support legislation that removes coverage for pre-existing conditions or causes higher premiums for those with pre-existing conditions. The AHCA says that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied, but there is language in the bill that allows insurers to drastically raise premiums based on pre-existing conditions and previous insurance. In essence, this would technically allow access to health care but would price people out of the market. His stance on this portion of the bill is particularly confusing given his work on human trafficking. Many victims of trafficking will have pre-existing conditions as defined by the AHCA, and will not have had consistent insurance, making them vulnerable to being priced out of the market at a time when they may need it most.
Finally, when pressured on health care costs, Paulsen likes to sing the praises of Health Savings Accounts. He is correct that these are a great tool for people to take advantage of. He ignores the fact that HSAs are valuable only for those who can afford them. If your household does not have additional cash to invest in HSAs, then these are just as useless as claiming that the AHCA will support those with pre-existing conditions.
Paulsen is skilled at deceiving voters and pretending he supports common-sense legislation. His voting record proves that this is not that case.
Natalie Larson, Maple Grove
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I have to ask why Paulsen and the Republicans keep focusing on the 5 percent of the Affordable Care Act that has a problem, the individual market. What about the 95 percent that works? Millions of people who never had health care now get preventive care. Otherwise, they would present themselves in emergency rooms with acute illnesses, and many would die who didn’t need to.
The problem with the ACA is that not enough healthy people pay into it. Insurance works because everybody pays, even when you’re healthy, and then insurance pays when you get sick. This seems to be the thing that the Republicans hate. They don’t want people to be forced to pay for health insurance. Well, then, where is the money going to come from? It’s going to come from well people anyway through higher costs to hospitals for treating uninsured sick people, or to taxpayers. The bottom line is that under the American Health Care Act, fewer people will have health care, and we’ll still end up paying for them, only we’ll pay more. That’s not a good solution. Fix the ACA, don’t trash it. Also, look at all of the data, don’t just cherry-pick the data you like.
Martin Masters, Shoreview
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I find a comparison of the Jon Tevlin column “Spare us crowing over your ‘health bill’ ” (May 7) and Paulsen’s May 9 article telling. I appreciate both Mr. Tevlin’s position given his own pre-existing condition risk(s), and I appreciate what Rep. Paulsen is trying to do to correct the huge fiasco that is Obamacare. As there (I think) is general agreement the ACA model of 2010 is untenable going forward, I would ask everyone to remember that the process to replace it has just started with the House and Paulsen et al. in Washington. Tevlin’s core concerns may yet be addressed in the Senate. They may be addressed in the House/Senate reconciliation. And they may be addressed by the administration if and when a bill that passed both House and Senate reaches President Trump’s desk for signature.
All I know is: From my own experience working in hospitals with physicians providing care under “single-payer” systems in Canada, England, Scandinavia, etc., the U.S. needs to do better. Forgive these examples: a premier open-heart center in a major city in Canada performed no surgeries during a three-month period as department “budgets” for the year had been exhausted. I know the waiting list for open-heart surgery in England is months long with the considered effect to limit the number of procedures performed as the many, many of the most ill die waiting. And we have seen our own federal health care system, Veterans Affairs, show undeniable signs of similar failure to “manage” care/cost and bureaucracy, over years of experience, in numerous centers.
I want pre-existing conditions covered, and I want to avoid a single-payer system. I want providers and patients to decide together what defines a reasonable medical outcome (individually, for me and my family members). I want to shop for my insurance across state lines. And I want tort reform. These are not mutually exclusive desires in my mind. I look for a day when Minnesota House-Senate leaders (like Paulsen and Sen. Amy Klobuchar) come to legislate together and to serve us all in better ways — one bill at a time, not in one monstrous document nobody can understand.
Dennis Sellke, Minnetonka
Senate Judiciary hearing shows parties’ differing approaches
Bipartisanship has a different definition based on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday. Democrats were focused on the Russian influence in the 2016 election and the possible compromise of Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser. The Republicans were focused on the leaking of information and not the content of the information. It should be noted that if the news media had not reported on Flynn’s ties to Russia and his lying to Vice President Mike Pence, he could still be our national security adviser. Leaking turned out to be a blessing in this instance.
Dwaine Glasenapp, St. Paul