Tina Smith is in Washington D.C. talking about rural health care, but there is one thing about her support for Medicare public options in Minnesota that she does not want to talk about.
According to a recent study, a public option health insurance plan like the one that Smith supports would put between 25 and 49 Minnesota rural hospitals at risk of closing. The study by Navigant Consulting found that “offering a government insurance program reimbursing at Medicare rates as a public option on the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act could place as many as 55% of rural hospitals, or 1,037 hospitals across 46 states, at high risk of closure. The rural hospitals at high risk represent more than 63,000 staffed beds and 420,000 employees (over 46 states).”
According to data.HRSA.gov, as of October 2019, Minnesota had: 78 Critical Access Hospitals, 99 Rural Health Clinics, 13 Federally Qualified Health Center and 25 short term hospitals all located outside of Urbanized Areas. At worst, one vote from Tina Smith solidifying Medicare public option health care may be responsible for closing almost 25% of rural hospitals in Minnesota.
Joanna Rodriguez, Press Secretary of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that “If Tina Smith’s pubic option were enacted it would put as many as 49 rural hospitals across Minnesota at risk of closure.” Rodriguez continued to claim that Tina Smith was duplicitous with her intentions, because if she “was serious about improving rural health care she would stop placating to the far-left voices of her party whose actions will lead to a drastic reduction in health care options for rural Minnesotans.”
U.S. Senate Candidate Jason Lewis has continued to push for better and more affordable healthcare. At a roundtable in Luverne last month, Lewis laid out his plan to improve rural healthcare — and unlike the public option Senator Smith supports, Lewis’ plan doesn’t risk the closure of up to 49 rural Minnesota hospitals.
Lewis’ plan can be broken down into four key categories for policy improvements: Agriculture, Jobs and the Economy, Infrastructure, and Health.
Jason Lewis also wants to expand on his bipartisan bill to establish an advisory committee on opioids to address the harmful effects of the opioid epidemic, one that has rocked our state. He also aims to see what actions employers can take to help affected employees all while making certain important pain-relieving drugs are still accessible for those who really need them.