Otter Tail County DFL
Nursing homes in the crosshairs of GOP health plan: Big turnout for healthcare forum in Detroit Lakes
DL-Online, By Nathan Bowe
It’s a sign of the times that a Detroit Lakes police officer stood in front of a Holiday Inn banquet room Thursday night, full of several hundred people who came to talk about health insurance.
As it turns out, he had an easy time of it. There were no fist fights, yelling, or even cross words. Though passionate at times, people who lined up to ask questions were almost all respectful, well informed and courteous towards the three panelists. They were there to answer questions about how the Republican-designed American Health Care Act could change healthcare in Detroit Lakes.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes fielded the most questions, but two others held their own—Essentia Health St. Mary’s President Peter Jacobson and Katie Lundmark, executive director of Ecumen Detroit Lakes.
Two DFL state lawmakers also attended in the audience—Sen. Kent Eken of Twin Valley and Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken sent staffers.
None of the four Republican state lawmakers who represent the area showed up to take the heat for the unpopular federal bills.
The U.S. Senate version of the bill would end Medicaid as we know it—not good news for the 64 percent of nursing home residents who pay for their care through Medicaid.
“The proposed cuts would be devastating to both our nursing homes and community services (which help people to live independently) said Lundmark, whose company, Ecumen, owns and manages nursing homes, assisted living and other care facilities in the region. “It would very much impact seniors’ care in our organizations. It would eventually push dollars back on individuals to pay, and it would create significant problems for Minnesota’s healthcare programs,” which are co-funded at the federal level, she said.
Both the U.S. House bill, which has passed, and the Senate bill, which awaits a vote, “would create the very real possibility that seniors would no longer have long-term care facilities,” Lundmark said. “Where will these individuals get the money to be able to pay for it?”
It’s not like they can go out and get jobs, they don’t generally have huge savings, and, she said, this is no way for the nation to prepare for the wave of aging Baby Boomers.
“Minnesota is known as a national leader in healthcare, I just really hate to see that change,” she said.
The Republican plan would also hurt hospitals, by removing the critical care funding for smaller hospitals, and by forcing them to return to the days of patients with no insurance having to use the emergency room for their primary care.
Jacobson, the hospital administrator, said it would be a move backwards from cost-saving measures that have been put in place the past several years.
“We need a healthcare system that encourages patients to seek the appropriate level of care, from the right person, in the right place, at the right time,” he said.
“We also need to encourage and hold providers to do the same thing—the current system has not historically worked this way, and that contributed to cost issues and care issues.”
Rep. Peterson said the United States spends 18 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare, while no other nation spends more than 10 percent, and yet health outcomes for Americans are worse.
“Something is definitely not right,” he said. He did not vote for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because there were elements he thought would not work, like forcing people to buy insurance, but he also did not vote to repeal it later, because there were elements that worked well, like covering people with preexisting conditions.
Republicans are now making the same mistake Democrats did by trying to ram the healthcare bill through without any support from the opposition party, he said. “Something this complicated will always need to be fixed,” he said. If the Republicans pass it, they won’t be able to fix it, just as happened with Democrats and
Obamacare, he said. “We will have problems until a bipartisan bill is passed.”
Although it was clear from the questions that there was a lot of support for single-payer or Medicare-for-all national health insurance, Peterson said he wasn’t ready to “jump off that cliff” yet. He had hoped that Medicare would be expanded to cover those 55 and older when
Obamacare was passed. That would have been a good way to test the waters, he said. But if a bipartisan solution isn’t found in the next 10 years, Peterson believes the nation will revolt, for better or worse, and insist on a national healthcare system that covers everybody.
DFL: Health care bill hurts rural residents: Rural America target of federal bill discussion
Democrats are telling rural Donald Trump voters that they do better under current law championed by then-President Barack Obama.
An example comes from the Democrat-leaning National Farmers Union and its president, a former North Dakota agriculture commissioner.
Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said after the House approved new health care laws Thursday, May 5, that it especially hurts rural residents. He said it is worse than the first Republican-written bill that failed earlier this spring.
“Many of the issues from the original legislation persist; the bill would still cap Medicaid (free health care for the poor), disproportionately affecting rural Americans who enroll in Medicaid at higher rates, and whose hospitals rely more on the program than their urban counterparts,” Johnson said. “The bill would also base subsidies on a person’s age, adversely affecting younger farmers, while dramatically easing restrictions on what companies can charge older farmers.”
Rural residents, especially farmers, tend to rely more on buying their own individual health insurance policies because they often do not work for employers who provide insurance. Those individual policies, as well as public medical coverage such as Medicaid, are more affected than employer-supplied insurance by current federal law known as Obamacare and the GOP House’s proposed American Health Care Act.
The House passed its replacement for Obamacare 217-213 Thursday with no Democratic support. It now goes to a Senate that may demand a different bill.
Trump has called Obamacare a “disaster” and congressional Republicans have long targeted the 2010 law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, calling it government overreach.
Republicans have found overturning Obamacare politically perilous, partly because of voter fears, loudly expressed at constituents’ town-hall meetings, that many people would lose their health insurance as a result.
In northwestern Wisconsin, for instance, Joyce Luedke saw a difference between many in her state and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, a Republican who represents her.
“I told Congressman Duffy we the taxpayers cover his family of 10 with quality health insurance,” Luedke said. “Has he ever acknowledged our contribution to him and his family?”
Duffy spoke about the Republican bill in glowing terms when interviewed on Fox News Channel: “So this is a huge step in moving forward for the American people and getting a sane health care system that will look out for the American people and families instead of bureaucrats here in Washington.”
Some Republicans, like U.S. Rep.Tom Emmer from just north of the Twin Cities, said the GOP bill is not perfect, but giving states more authority means residents will benefit.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said people in his state who complain about losing access to policies and facing “increasing premiums and skyrocketing deductibles” would get relief from the House-passed bill.
In rural areas that do not favor federal control, lawmakers say the Republican plan is just what the voters wanted.
“I do not believe the federal government should be the decision-maker on health care,” said U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.
Top Republicans use Iowa as an example of Obamacare problems, as Minnesota-based Medica is dropping its individual health insurance in most counties. The same thing already happened in Minnesota, with many people warning that much of the state may have no individual policies available next year.
While Republicans blame Obamacare for health insurance woes, Democrats tell rural Americans that the current law is better for them than the Republican alternative.
The Minnesota Health Department, part of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, reported shortly before the House vote that the number of Minnesotans without health insurance dropped more sharply in greater Minnesota than in urban areas since 2011. Obamacare was credited.
“It is encouraging to know that in recent years Minnesota made significant progress on a key health equity issue by eliminating insurance disparities between rural and urban residents,” Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said. “However, it is also clear that this important gain could be in jeopardy. This study shows that any repeal of the ACA (Obamacare) without a replacement ensuring similar rural coverage levels would disproportionately hurt rural Minnesotans.”
The Health Department claims that repealing current federal law could cost Minnesota $2.5 billion and affect 1.1 million Minnesotans.
Minnesota lawmakers and the governor are taking actions to open the market for more insurance companies next year.
Unlike many other Upper Midwest states, Minnesota provides a state-run health insurance sales site, MNsure. Most states rely on a federal sales service.
MNsure’s chief executive officer said Minnesotans should not worry about this year’s coverage, regardless of what Congress does.
“It is important to know that no matter what happens at the federal level your coverage this year will not change, so long as you continue to pay your premiums,” Allison O’Toole said.
Now is the time. You are needed to make phone calls. Let them know your issue and concerns. Your voice needs to be heard!
An old Nigerian Proverb says, “In times of crises, the foolish man builds walls; the wise man builds bridges.” This is a time when bridge building is more important than ever. If you want to communicate with leaders who have power over policy issues which will affect us, building a bridge with comments and conversation may be effective. You might want to phone the RNC 202-863-8500.
Following is a resource to facilitate reaching out to legislators. You may want to expand to legislators of both parties.
This list is a start:
Congressman COLLIN PETERSON DC 202-225-2165
DETROIT LAKES 218-847-5056
Senator AL FRANKEN DC 202-224-5641
ROCHESTER 507-288-2003 DULUTH 218-722-2390
MOORHEAD 218-284-8721 ST. PAUL 651-221-1016
Senator AMY KLOBUCHAR DC 202-224-3244
MOORHEAD 218-287-2219 ROCHESTER 507-288-5321
ST.PAUL 612-727-5220 VIRGINIA MN 218-7419690
Senator CHUCK SCHUMER DC 202-224-6542
NEW YORK 212-486-4430
Congresswoman NANCY PELOSI DC 202-225-4965
SAN FRANCISCO 415-556-4862
You may want to contact:
Senator Lisa Murkowski (202-224-6665) and Senator Susan Collins (202-224-2523)
THANK THEM for not supporting Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.
2016 Otter Tail County Resolutions from 2016 Convention That was submitted to the MN DFL
Agriculture & Food
Be it resolved that the Minnesota DFL support the labeling of products which use ingredients made from genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.)
Civil, Human, & Constitutional Rights
Be it resolved that we defend democracy, a system of government in which power is vested in the people, and call for an amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights, and money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.
Be it resolved that the DFL party support measures such as early voting, automatic voter registration, and restoration of the Voting Act of 1964; and opposes requirements which prevent equal accessibility to all sectors of the voting population.
Be it resolved that the DFL Party supports creating a Paid Family Leave Program for all Minnesotans.
Be it resolved that the DFL will endorse and support the Minnesota Compassionate Care Act – legislation authorizing aid in dying for terminally ill, mentally competent individuals to ask for and receive a prescription for medication that they can self-administer for a peaceful death if and when their suffering becomes unbearable.
Be it resolved that the DFL supports legislation to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in the workplace and in public facilities.
Be it resolved that marijuana be removed as a schedule one narcotic so that medical research will be allowed.
Be it resolved that pharmaceutical industries should be regulated in a manner that allows fair and equal pricing.
Be it resolved that the DFL support legislation to reduce the cost of post-secondary school attendance.
Be it resolved that the DFL supports fully funded Early Childhood Family Education, Family Literacy, Early Childhood Special Education, and School Readiness to help children prepare for kindergarten and lifelong success.
Be it resolved that the MN DFL supports comprehensive sexual health education that equips Minnesota students with the knowledge to make best choices about their sexual health and reduce rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Be it resolved that Minnesota must work toward 50% renewable energy by 2030.
Be it resolved that the Minnesota Constitution (Article VII Sec. 9) should be amended to require the disclosure of ALL political contributions and expenditures, including electioneering communications but excluding an organization’s communications with its membership, in order to eliminate ‘dark money’ from Minnesota elections.
Health & Human Services
Be it resolved that the MN DFL support universal health care (single payer), paid for by employer/employee withholdings.
Labor & Employment
Be it resolved that the Minnesota DFL support the Minimum Wage campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, index it to inflation, conform with federal work rules, and preserve the prohibition on the tip penalty.
Be it resolved that the Minnesota DFL oppose any attempt by the Minnesota legislature to enact legislation or constitutional amendments to make Minnesota a “Right-to-Work” State.
Be it resolved that no government support should be given to, and severe tax penalties applied toward corporations that take their businesses out of the United States.
National Security & International Policy
Natural Resources & Environment
Be it resolved that the DFL party will support measures that will fight climate change on all levels and in all ways.
Be it resolved that Social Security should be a sustainable and continuous program.
Tax & Budget Policy
Be it resolved that reduced high interest rates for college loans is necessary.
WE THE PEOPLE
by Charlie Beacon
Yes indeed, I know you may not want to think about the malnourished world of politics. It can be very messy and even duplicitous at times. It can seem like a magnet that attracts scoundrels and others of nefarious character. Oh my you say. you have a headache. It can be enough to give a saintly person an aneurysm. Your response could be to just bury one’s head in the proverbial sands of dismay. Just hide in your own personal domestic sanctum and just let others be engaged. However, this great experiment called a “Democracy” is counting on your voice. Yes, it will pulsate with success, but a more laudable approach is for “We the People” to step up to the plate. This great experiment needs and wants your input and help. Share your knowledge and experiences with neighbors, family and friends. You are needed to take a share of responsibility for the future of Minnesota and our great country called “AMERICA”. You can help by not allowing cynicism to metastasize.
I know you are concerned about Minnesota and America. The question is what can I do? As a concerned citizen, motivate yourself to make a positive impact, join with family and friends at the grass roots effort of the upcoming Minnesota Precinct Caucuses on Tuesday, February 4, 2014. The caucuses are the beginning grass roots process that you can use to elect those individual who will represent you in your political party. This is an excellent opportunity for you to become involved at a local level which influences our state and national politics. Your Precinct Caucus can be the venue to meet others, like you, who are becoming involved. Maybe it is your first time attending a caucus. This is where you can discuss various issues and share ideas. Eventually, one can propose resolutions which are used to construct your political party’s platform. You will elect your representative who will attend the County Convention. They will cast their votes for party officers and delegates to the next convention.
Martin Luther King eloquently stated that “The arch of history bends in the direction of justice”. This may be true, however it doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes the involvement of “We the People”.
Otter Tail County Democratic Farmer Party believes that we are all in this together. Paul Wellstone said it best, “We all do better when we all do better.” We all at least should have a fair chance to succeed. If you agree that public education, social justice, a fair and equitable tax system that doesn’t unduly burden those least able to pay. Then we will move Minnesota and America forward. Take this opportunity to step up and be part of this great Democracy!
Mark your calendar, the date is Tuesday, February 4, 2014. There will be seven different location in Otter Tail County. Watch for the press release in January or go to: Otter Tail County DFL website at dfl.org/ottertail . Join with family, friends and neighbors a the grass roots meeting called Precinct Caucuses, see you there.