MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Senate Wednesday opened hearings on what’s expected to be major changes in health care on the way.
The Republican-controlled Congress in Washington is debating bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Replacing it in Minnesota, however, might be difficult.
Repealing the ACA may cause a significant disruption, not just in how health care is delivered and paid for, but who gets it.
For Delores Flynn, it’s personal.
The 72-year old Roseville mother cares for her brain-injured son Scott at home, with Medicaid help. Now, she’s afraid that help will disappear if Obamacare is repealed.
“I want to scream,” she said. “I cry a lot. It’s extremely frustrating for people to choose money over people’s lives.”
The Minnesota Department of Human Services estimates the state will lose billions of dollars in federal funding if Congress passes the health care bills it is debating.
By 2019, it will lose $2 billion dollars, mostly in Medicaid funding. By 2022 that’s up to $10.4 billion, and by 2027 the department estimates funding cuts of $31 billion dollars.
For state lawmakers, the decision is doubly difficult. A Senate select committee on health care is trying to get a handle on what’s happening, and what might happen in Minnesota.
“We’ve led before, and we need to lead again,” Sen. Scott Jensen (R), who serves on the committee, said. “We have to do whatever we can do in the Minnesota legislature for Minnesota, regardless of the fact that there’s a lot of question marks about what the federal legislation will be.”
Critics like Delores say they will pressure lawmakers to repair, not repeal.
“Why don’t they just improve Obamacare?” she said. “Name it Trumpcare, I don’t give a crap what they name it, but improve it and let people have health care.”
Whatever happens at the federal level, state lawmakers will still have to wrestle down health costs in Minnesota, which now consume 32 percent of the state budget.