Health care drama just politics as usual in Washington

The repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act drama returns to Washington D.C. President Donald Trump and Senate GOP leaders are once again pushing for enough votes to pass new health care legislation called the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Supporters of the legislation say that states will now get federal block grants, instead of the subsidies under the ACA. They argue states will be in more control of health care coverage. However, a study by Avalere Health found that the bill would actually result in an overall $215 billion cut to the states in federal funding for health insurance through 2026. AARP and the American Medical Association are among those arguing against the bill.

Of course, Avalere Health is a consulting firm and is not an independent organization. Ideally, senators and their constituents would get an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in time for a vote. But that won’t happen because the vote has to take place by the end of the month because supporters of the legislation only need votes from 50 of the 52 senators for passage. Sept. 30 is the last day on which the Senate can pass Obamacare repeal with only Republican votes via the budget reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is upset with federal health officials for holding up approval of a program meant to lower health insurance costs and threatening millions of dollars in cuts to health care for the working poor.

The Democratic governor called the situation a nightmare, saying the holdup in approval could cause premiums for 2018 to jump an estimated 20 percent. Dayton also complains that he’s unable to call Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, claiming he doesn’t even have his phone number.

In other words, it’s politics as usual in Washington, D.C. Health care is one of the top issues that hits close to home for southwest Minnesota residents. Affordable health care is important here. No vote on Graham-Cassidy should take place until the CBO releases its study on it. And a governor — Democrat or Republican — should have reasonable access to the Health and Human Services Secretary.

Health care coverage is too important of an issue for it to be rushed through for passage like Obamacare.

The solution needs to come from both sides of the aisle this time.

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