September 25, 2017
Minnesota Health Commissioner Statement on U.S. Senate Health Care Legislation
Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger issued the following statement today regarding the health care legislation advancing this week in the U.S. Senate.
The latest health care legislation advanced by Senate Republicans contains the same alarming flaws of the proposals introduced earlier this year. I am deeply concerned about the possibility of this measure passing because it would have many harmful impacts for all Americans, particularly for Minnesotans.
Recent analysis estimates Minnesota would lose nearly $37 billion in federal health care funding through 2030. It would end cost-sharing payments to low-income Minnesotans, and it would lead to significant spikes in health insurance bills. Among other things, the proposal would eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive consumer protections established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This would cause millions of people to lose their health insurance. The bill’s removal of federal protections for benefits such as pregnancy, maternity and newborn care would threaten the health of women and children across Minnesota.
It is ironic that in the same month we dealt with killer storms and other disasters, the Senate authors also included language to repeal core public health funding that protects Americans from deadly health risks. Specifically, the bill would eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund – a major funding mechanism for vital public health activities around the country.
Last year, the Minnesota Department of Health received $17 million from this fund. Among other activities, we use this funding to purchase supplies used to test for deadly diseases, support computer systems that ensure children are properly immunized, and provide financial support to rural counties and non-profit organizations. These activities pre-date the Affordable Care Act, and many receive little or no state funding.
Repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund along with the rest of the ACA without providing alternative funding for public health would be a mistake likely to cost American lives. I call upon Congress to take action to protect the public health services that protect all Americans.