Reaction to health care act passage in U.S. House falls along party lines

Reaction to the May 4 approval of the American Health Care Act in the U.S. House has gone along party lines, much like the vote.

Sixth District Republican Rep. Tom Emmer said with the passage of the AHCA, the House took a step toward putting the states and American people back in charge of their health care.

Emmer acknowledged that the ACHA is not perfect, but feels it gets many things right.

“It focuses on rebuilding a market-based system, increasing competition and choices to expand access to quality, affordable health care,” Emmer said in a statement.

He said the ACHA retains some of the most popular features of Obamacare, including allowing dependents to stay on their parents insurance until the age of 26.

“The AHCA gives control back to the states and the people rather than Washington bureaucrats forcing a one-size-fits-all policy that doesn’t work for all Americans,” Emmer said.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a DFLer who represents Minneapolis and many of the nearby suburbs in the 5th Congressional District, including Spring Lake Park, voted against the bill.

Ellison criticized its potential impact on expecting mothers, low-income parents with no employer health benefits, people with a chronic illness and Minnesotans who gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

“In their first major vote under President Trump, House Republicans pushed through a bill that will increase insurance premiums and deductibles, slash hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, and leave millions of working people without affordable health care coverage – to finance a $1 tillion tax cut for the top 2 percent of households,” Ellison said in a statement.

All Minnesota Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the bill while all Minnesota’s DFL members of U.S. House voted against.

The measure passed 217 to 212 with no Democratic support and 20 Republicans voting no.

The bill’s next stop is consideration by the U.S. Senate.

“Calling this bill the ‘American Health Care Act’ is a cruel irony – 24 million Americans will likely lose their coverage,” Ellison said. “Hundreds of millions of people who get their insurance through their employer could see their plans slashed. Seniors and people with pre-existing conditions will be priced out of their insurance plans. And as many as one million Minnesotans who have received affordable care through the expansion of Medicaid, essential health benefits, or the exchange will be worse off.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican who represents the western suburbs in the 3rd Congressional District (which includes a portion of Coon Rapids), released a shorter statement saying, “With millions in Minnesota and the United States in need of relief from skyrocketing costs, diminishing choices and limited access, the status quo under Obamacare is no longer acceptable.

“This is just the latest step in reforming our health care system to be more patient-centered, and my focus remains on finding solutions that will make sure Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care. I’m also pleased to see the permanent repeal of the medical device tax included in this effort, which is critical to encourage medical innovation and make life-saving technologies accessible to patients.”

Paulsen represents a district that is a center for medical-device companies.

The nonprofit Twin Cities interfaith coalition ISAIAH said in a press release after the vote that this is a time for public lament.

“This inhumane bill destroys the health care of 24 million people, steals $880 billion from Medicaid, threatening the health and even the very lives of many in our nation. Nearly half of all births in the nation are covered by Medicaid, and 60 percent of nursing home beds. Every American’s health care will be affected if this bill is made the law of the land, but people of color, children, the elderly and disabled will be disproportionately affected.”

Gov. Mark Dayton told the media after the vote that Minnesota will not opt out of covering people entering the health care market with pre-existing conditions.

A CNN analysis of the bill said “it would make it harder for people to buy comprehensive coverage and weaken the protections for those with pre-existing conditions. The bill would provide $138 billion through 2026 to help states and insurers lower premiums and set up high-risk pools to cover those with pre-existing conditions.”

More on that analysis is at www.money.cnn.com/2017/05/04/news/economy/obamacare-republican-health-care/index.html.

Seth Rowe and Mandy Froemming contributed to this report.