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Letter: New Republican healthcare plan deeply unpopular

The American Health Care Act has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and its counterpart, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, is under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

According to Katie Lundmark, executive director of Ecumen- Detroit Lakes, these bills would deeply affect healthcare in the Detroit Lakes and Perham areas.

She, along with Peter Jacobson of Essentia-St. Mary's and U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, were available to answer questions about the new healthcare bills at a Health Care Forum on July 6 in Detroit Lakes.

The AHCA will dramatically cut Medicaid, which covers 49 percent of all births and 64 percent of all nursing home residents in the United States.

These cuts will also disproportionately affect children in rural areas. According to the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, 38 percent of children in rural Minnesota depend on Medicaid coverage, whereas only 28 percent of children in urban areas do.

Rep. Peterson also explained that this bill does very little to address the rising costs of healthcare and the associated rising premiums. It is interesting to note that not a single Republican representative—Bud Nornes, Bill Ingebrigtsen, Steve Green, or Paul Utke—accepted their invitation to attend the forum and address these concerns.

After over 90 minutes of questions, attendees of Thursday's Health Care Forum had the opportunity to submit their thoughts on health care to the forum sponsors. Over 80 percent of survey respondents favored keeping some form of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, over the newly proposed American Health Care Act. Nearly 70 percent of respondents supported some form of a single-payer healthcare system.

These statistics show just how out of touch Congressional Republicans are with the health care needs of Becker and Otter Tail Counties. In contrast, Rep. Peterson was instrumental in developing the Critical Access Hospital designation that keeps rural hospitals with 25 beds or less functioning.

He has also sponsored a bill in the U.S. House that would require care providers to list their prices for their services so patients can make informed decisions about how and where they receive care.

These are the common sense healthcare solutions Americans need. Politicians in Washington should focus on addressing the real needs of their constituents, not waging an ideological battle against democratic principles.—Gordon Rosby, Detroit Lakes

(Rosby served as moderator of the healthcare forum, which was sponsored by the Lakes Area Indivisible group)