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Five things to watch for in today’s MPR MN03 debate

By October 5, 2018No Comments

Minneapolis, MN—The debate today between Rep. Erik Paulsen and challenger Dean Phillips will make it very clear to voters where they stand on key issues, including health care. Health care remains among the top issues in MN03, with over 60% of voters saying it is either the top issue or very important this election. Polls also show that Paulsen has a steep hill to climb on this issue, with Democrats holding a decisive advantage on who voters trust more, what to do with the Affordable Care Act, and how to handle protections for the 2.3 million Minnesotans with preexisting conditions. Given Paulsen’s record on health care here are five things to watch for today:

1)    How will Paulsen try and claim he supports protections for people with preexisting conditions while actively trying to subvert them? Since 2011 Erik Paulsen has voted no less than five times to fully repeal or substantially alter the  Affordable Care Act (ACA), all of which would have taken away protections for 2.3 million Minnesotans with preexisting conditions and cut essential health care programs. These actions directly contradict his stated position that he has “long supported protections for people with preexisting conditions.”

2)    How will Paulsen try and distance himself from Donald Trump on health care when he’s supported him all the way on the issue?  When it comes to health care Erik Paulsen has supported Donald Trump 100% of the time, doubling down on attacks on people with pre-existing conditions, in the courts, through legislation and through regulations that promote junk plans and restrict Medicaid.

3)    Will Paulsen claim that he’ll protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? Just Last week Erik Paulsen joined other House Republicans in passing a second set of tax cuts to benefit the wealthiest Americans and big corporations at the expense of working families. These tax cuts have led to trillion dollar deficits, which Republicans are now using as an excuse to go after Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare.

Earlier this month, Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, confirmed that they still have their sights set on Americans’ care. Asked when programs like Social Security and Medicare will be looked at for reforms, Kudlow replied, “Everyone will look at that — probably next year.” And last December, when President Trump signed the first round of $1.5 trillion tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy, Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear they would cut programs like Medicaid that support working families. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.”

4)    How will Paulsen claim he’s doing all he can to fight the opioid crisis? Medicaid and protections for preexisting conditions are the best tools in the policy toolbox to combat it, and Paulsen’s politically expedient votes to support legislation to confront the opioid crisis don’t change the damage he would do by eliminating those.

  • In 2014, Medicaid paid for 25 percent of all addiction treatment nationwide.
  • It is estimated that Medicaid expansion covers four in 10 people with an opioid use disorder.
  • The opioid epidemic is now the most deadly drug overdose crisis in U.S. history. In 2016, roughly 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, meaning that more American lives were lost due to drug overdoses in 2016 than were lost in combat during the entirety of the Vietnam War. Two-thirds of 2016 drug overdoses involved opioids.
  • Medicaid expansion has reduced unmet need for substance use treatment by more than 18 percent. Recent research finds that Medicaid expanding reduced the unmet need for substance use treatment by 18.3 percent.

5)    Will Paulsen claim to support MinnesotaCare?

Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act have jeopardized MinnesotaCare, Minnesota’s twenty-five year old health care program for the working poor. The Trump Administration has threatened to cut hundreds of millions of dollars for this crucial program that helps low-income Minnesotans access affordable health coverage, and votes by Paulsen to repeal the Affordable Care Act would also lead to hundreds of millions in cuts. 

Additional Background

What would full repeal of the Affordable Care Act eliminate?

  • Protections for 2,331,000 Minnesotans, including 310,200 of Paulsen’s constituents in MN-03, with pre-existing conditions, if they buy coverage on their own
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable
  • Small business tax credits
  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for up to 120,000 Minnesotans

What would have the American Health Care Act (Republican ACA replacement bill Paulsen voted for) meant for Minnesota?

  • In 2026, more than 254,000 Minnesotans would lose coverage under this bill, including 27,700 in Paulsen’s district.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the American Health Care Act would have raised premiums 20 percent in 2018.
  • AHCA imposed what the AARP calls an “age tax” on older Americans. In Minnesota, out-of-pocket costs for older people could increase by as much as $11,564  by 2026.
  • The negative economic impact of the American Health Care Act would cause 24,785 Minnesotans to lose their jobs by 2022, including 1,062 in the 3rd congressional district

MN03 survey findings:

  • A majority of voters (56%- 37%) – say they trust Democrats more than Republicans with their health care.
  • MN03 voters oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act and instead want to keep what works and fix what doesn’t by a27-point margin.
  • MN03 voters oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate the health care law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions by a margin of 68% – 17%. 

You can read the full polling results for MN03 here