Franken, Durenberger take partisan jabs in call for bipartisan health care bill

In a commentary published in the Star Tribune, former Sen. Dave Durenberger and Sen. Al Franken urge Congress to pass a bipartisan health care bill sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray.

It’s hard to take their call for bipartisanship seriously when they themselves level unfair partisan jabs at Republicans and President Trump.

Instead of discussing partisanship from both sides, they lay blame only on Republicans who,”ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, … refuse to work with Democrats to improve the law, building on its successes and amending its flaws, insisting instead that its protections be repealed in their entirety.”

They neglect to mention how Obamacare was rammed through Congress along party lines back in 2010.  As result of that partisan process, a very flawed law is wreaking havoc on state health insurance markets.  Rates have doubled since 2013 and insurers are fleeing the market.  Over 50 percent of American counties only have one insurance carrier for 2018.

Their charge that Republicans just want to repeal the law’s protections is also completely unfair.  Republicans aren’t just demanding to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  They’re also demanding to replace it with new provisions that empower states to stabilize health insurance markets while at the same time protecting people in sensible ways that don’t undermine the health care system for everyone as Obamacare is doing right now.


Then Durenberger and Franken have the insolence to claim that Republicans “actually tried to sabotage [Obamacare’s] implementation and prevent it from working the way it was intended.”

For evidence, they cite President Trump’s decision to stop making cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers that help reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income people.  The Alexander-Murray bill would revive these payments.

Stopping CSR payments has nothing to do with sabotaging Obamacare.  It has everything to do with upholding the Rule of Law.

Last year a federal judge ruled that the CSR payments President Obama authorized violated the Constitution because Congress never made an appropriation.

After weighing the legality of the CSR payments and concluding the federal judge ruled correctly, Trump had no other option but to end the payments.  Congress holds the purse strings, not the President.

And just days ago, in response to legal action taken by states to force the Trump Administration to resume making the CSR payments, an Obama-appointed federal judge denied the states’ demand and concluded the  “Administration has the stronger legal position.”

In fact, as Politico reports, “The ruling’s language suggested the case may have been brought more for political reasons than legal merit.”

Likewise, the manner in which Durenberger and Franken penned their commentary suggests it was written more for political, partisan reasons.