“Graham-Cassidy” will overwhelm Minnesota’s hunger relief community


September 20, 2017 By: Marcus Schmit

Health care remains a foremost concern for many Minnesotans and their families, struggling to balance household budgets with rising health coverage costs in the individual insurance marketplace. Some insurance providers are pulling out of the individual marketplace altogether, choosing to focus solely on employer-sponsored plans and leaving many folks in Greater Minnesota with few options.

It is almost impossible to escape the politics of health care. The passage of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare, divided Democrats and Republicans on ideological lines. Efforts to repeal this law persist as Congress entertains its latest proposal championed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana). The “Graham-Cassidy” bill succeeds in repealing much of Obamacare; however, the significant funding reductions to Medicaid (i.e. Medical Assistance in Minnesota) and elimination of tax credits for those seeking coverage in the individual marketplace through MNsure will overwhelm Minnesota’s hunger relief community by forcing far too many Minnesotans to choose : paying for essential health care or buying food for themselves and their children.

Initial analysis of Graham-Cassidy shows that Minnesota will lose a significant portion of its annual federal Medicaid funding, forcing state legislators to choose between increasing the state’s investment in health care or tolerating tens of thousands of Minnesotans to lose coverage. The latter and more likely scenario in a tight budget year at the Capitol would fuel a meal gap that already exceeds 100 million meals each year in our state.

Bipartisan efforts to repair Obamacare are emerging and offer us hope that meaningful health care reform is possible. Graham-Cassidy fails to fix what ails our health care system; in fact, it makes it much harder for Second Harvest Heartland and our food bank and food shelf partners across the state to address hunger in our communities.

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