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Sen. Franken: Health Care Law Already Helping Minnesota Families, Small Businesses

House Effort to Repeal Law Would Raise Deficit, Prevent Needed Health Care Reforms

Thursday, January 20, 2011

U.S. House of Representatives' misguided effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will raise the deficit by $230 billion, and take away necessary health care services.

Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said that U.S. House of Representatives' misguided effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will not only raise the deficit by $230 billion, but also hurt Minnesotans by taking away necessary health care services.

"Minnesota families and businesses have already started to feel the direct benefits of the health care law." said Sen. Franken. "This law already has done a lot of good for a lot of people: it's eliminated lifetime caps on insurance, given kids the ability to stay on their parents' plans until they're 26, closed the prescription drug ‘doughnut hole' for our seniors, and prevented insurance companies from denying children coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Beyond that, it cuts the deficit and allows more small businesses to cover their employees because of the tax credits the law provides."

On Wednesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 245 to 189. The bill was signed into law by President Obama last March and has since helped thousands of Minnesotans. The Senate is not expected to vote on repeal.

Sen. Franken was responsible for several key provisions that were included in the Affordable Care Act. The medical loss ratio provision, which kicked in earlier this month, ensures that a higher percentage of every premium dollar is spent on actual health care, not wasteful administrative costs, marketing campaigns, CEO salaries, or profits. Sen. Franken's national diabetes prevention provision, which he introduced with Senator Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), gives Minnesotans and Americans with pre-diabetes access to structured lifestyle intervention programs that have proven effective at reducing the development of full blown diabetes. Sen. Franken also fought to include a "value index" in the law. The condition instates a payment formula for physicians that saves tax dollars by incentivizing high-quality, low-cost care like the Mayo Clinic provides.

In addition, Sen. Franken worked for months to reduce the proposed taxes on the medical device industry. The tax was successfully cut in half, from $40 billion to $20 billion. While this was a tremendous improvement, Sen. Franken continues fighting to further reduce the unfair burden on the medical device industry.

According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, without the Affordable Care Act:

  • o 11,400 young adults in Minnesota would lose their insurance coverage through their parents' health plans. Families across Minnesota would lose the peace of mind the Affordable Care Act provides by making sure that young adults can stay on their parents plan to age 26 if they do not have coverage of their own.
  • o Nearly 3.5 million residents of Minnesota with private insurance coverage would be subject to having lifetime limits placed on how much insurance companies will spend on their health care.
  • Insurance companies would once again be allowed to cut off someone's coverage unexpectedly when they are in an accident or become sick. This would leave 356,000 people in Minnesota at risk of losing their insurance.
  • Nearly 3.5 million residents of Minnesota would not know if they are receiving value for their health insurance premium dollars, as insurers in state would no longer be required to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on health care rather than CEO salaries, bonuses, and corporate profits.
  • New insurance plans would no longer be required to cover recommended preventive services, like mammograms and flu shots, without cost sharing, nor would they have to guarantee enrollees the right to choose any available primary care provider in the network or see an OB-GYN without a referral.
  •   747,000 seniors in Minnesota who have Medicare coverage would be forced to pay a co-pay to receive important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies.
  • Medicare would no longer pay for an annual check-up visit.
  • 43,589 Minnesotans on Medicare would see significantly higher prescription drug costs: Medicare beneficiaries received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs in the "donut hole" coverage gap in 2010. Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the "donut hole" in 2011 will be eligible for 50 percent discounts on covered brand name prescription drugs.

To get more information about how repealing the health care law would affect Minnesotans, visit http://franken.senate.gov/?p=hot_topic&id=1262


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