Reporters ignore counterpoints to Dayton’s claims about funding losses from GOP health care bills

Gov. Mark Dayton hosted a news conference with Rep. Keith Ellison and several other DFL state legislators on Wednesday to highlight the results of a new state analysis on how the Senate health care bill would impact Minnesotans on Medicaid.

As expected, the Dayton administration’s analysis offered a sharp critique of the Senate Republican’s health care bill.  The analysis projects Minnesota would lose $2 billion in federal funding in the first 18 months, $10.4 billion over five years, and $31 billion over ten years.  In 2025, a majority of this spending cut, according to the analysis, will come from spending on the elderly and disabled.  Furthermore, the law will end funding for MinnesotaCare, the state’s health care program for working adults.

The Star Tribune published an article on the press conference yesterday and the Dayton administration and really any critic of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare could not have hoped for better coverage.  Nothing within the article’s 761 words offered any counterpoint to the Democratic talking points trotted out yesterday.

As a result, Star Tribune readers never heard the other side of the story.  Here’s some points the reporters missed in their article.

●  The per capita cap on Medicaid spending in the House and Senate health care bills does not cut spending, it lowers the rate of growth. This is no different than what Democrats did to Medicare spending when they passed Obamacare.

●  The per capita cap on Medicaid spending would for the first time put Medicaid on a budget, reduce Medicaid spending, and, as a result, leave more money for other state priorities like education and roads.

●  The state’s projected “losses” appear greatly exaggerated when compared to other analyses. In the first ten years, between 2019 and 2028, Minnesota’s analysis of the House health care bill projects a loss of $22 billion.  The left-leaning Urban Institute projects only $12 billion in lower spending growth.

●  The only real Medicaid cuts for Minnesota come from eliminating a twisted incentive in Obamacare that prioritizes able-bodied, working age adults over children, the disabled, and the elderly.  Oddly, Obamacare provides a 90 percent match to the able-bodied adults in the Medicaid expansion population, but, in Minnesota, provides a 50 percent match to virtually everyone else.  This disparity prioritizes funding to able-bodied adults by making it easier for any state to save money by cutting Medicaid benefits for the truly needy.  Minnesota would save 50 cents for every dollar cut from the disabled population, but would save only 10 cents from every dollar cut from the expansion population.

●  MinnesotaCare might lose funding under the Senate health care bill, but this program funding would be replaced with tax credits to empower low-income households to buy private insurance coverage like everyone else. State money currently spent on MinnesotaCare could be redirected to help fund health savings accounts for these households.

●  The Republican health care bill also gives states more options to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse, which should free more money to go to the truly needy.

All of these points counter the doom and gloom scenarios Democrats and their allies are trotting out to stop Republicans from repealing and replacing Obamacare.  You can’t fault them for doing everything they can to save Obama’s signature achievement, but you can fault reporters for not telling the other side of the story.