Dayton calls proposed Senate health care bill cuts 'catastrophic'

Governor Mark Dayton says the U.S. Senate’s proposed health care bill would have “catastrophic” effects on Minnesota health care.

He believes the state would have to make drastic cuts if the current health care bill in the Senate passes.

At the Northpoint Health and Wellness Center, about 63 percent of its patients are on some form of medical assistance. During a press conference, Congressman Keith Ellison and Governor Dayton highlighted how the proposed congressional Medicaid cuts could hurt the very people who rely on the clinic.

"They talk about giving governors more flexibility... the only flexibility we're going to be given is deciding who to cut and what to cut,” said Dayton. 

The Department of Human Services says the U.S. Senate reductions in Medicaid funding would eliminate MinnesotaCare and put the coverage of 1.2 million Minnesotans at risk.

JR, a patient, says he relied on those programs to get him through alcohol treatment.

"If it wasn't for that, I would probably be a statistic, that status quo, in jail,” he said. “But because I found a support system of beautiful people like you, it's a great thing to say life is ok today." 

The health care bill in the Senate is currently stalled. A vote before the July 4th break was put off so Senate leadership could rework the bill to gain more votes.

"I don't want anybody to make a mistake and think, well, this thing is DOA, this thing is not going to make it out, don't believe that for a minute,” said Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota. “Do not believe that for a minute. People need to raise their voices about the dangerousness of this Senate bill as if their lives depend upon it. Some people's lives do depend upon it." 

Governor Dayton says Minnesota would get hit twice. First, by the proposed elimination of federal funding for MinnesotaCare, starting in 2019, and then in the Medicaid cuts starting after 2021.