WASHINGTON – The GOP health care bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), is starting to make its way through the Senate, and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has some choice words for the bill.
In a Senate floor speech, Franken went after President Donald Trump and House Republicans for their replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He claimed the GOP is “selling its health care bill on false pretenses.”
“This bill would take us back in time and roll back our progress. It is up to us, here in the Senate, to stop that from happening,” Franken said. “This bill is literally sickening. It is vicious, it is cruel, and it should never be passed into law. I urge my Republican colleagues to walk away from this cruel effort. And work with us to actually improve health care for Americans. And I urge everyone considering this bill to be straight with the American people about exactly what this bill would do to them.”
Republicans in both the House and the Senate have been fighting for years to repeal and replace the ACA. The GOP has blamed the ACA for the rising premiums and loss of insurers in the individual market. Despite Franken’s harsh criticism for the GOP replacement bill, he acknowledged the ACA needs to be fixed.
“Look, the Affordable Act is far from perfect, and we’ve got problems that need to be fixed,” Franken said. “But let’s step back and review how far we’ve come because of the ACA. Since it came into effect, about 20 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage, producing the lowest uninsured rate in the history of this country in 2016. In Minnesota, the number of uninsured dropped by nearly half, with people in rural areas seeing the largest gains in coverage. And, as a result, we have eliminated the gap in coverage between rural and urban Minnesotans.”
Franken did not address the huge health care premium hikes Minnesotans faced this year. Minnesotans faced some of the biggest increases in the nation, with an average increase of about 60 percent. Part of the skyrocketing costs comes from a larger than typical number of individuals with serious medical conditions. The rest of the relatively small risk pool must absorb these costs through increased premiums.
As Alpha News previously reported, Minnesota’s Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman called for changes to the Affordable Care Act.
“Last year at this time when rates were announced, I said there was a serious need for reform in Minnesota’s individual market,” Rothman said, “This year the need for reform is now without any doubt even more serious and urgent.”
Franken did not offer any solutions to the rising premiums for Minnesotans.