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Letters: Medicaid changes need to prioritize; An almost-missed message to Lewis' 'town hall meeting'

Medicaid changes should prioritize those who need it most

Katie Nelson's recent story ("Health care town hall in Cottage Grove shines light on Medicaid recipients") featured personal stories of those who have benefited from public safety net programs. Good stuff, but unfortunately, focusing on those low-income families, children and those with disabilities for whom Medicaid programs are intended obscures what's really driving unsustainable costs in these programs — the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to childless, able-bodied adults. Conflating the two groups misleads the public to think that any future cuts to Medicaid will disproportionately affect those who really need these programs. That is simply not the case.

At its core, the national debate on health reform has always been about priorities. A stark example of public policy with the wrong priorities is the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Indeed, Obamacare actually diverted critical health resources away from low-income families and the disabled by prioritizing childless, able-bodied adults in its funding formula. For them, Obamacare pays states 90 percent of the cost of Medicaid, whereas the federal match for most vulnerable remained at 50 percent.

As a society, most of us agree with helping those who truly need public assistance. That's why local leaders, including Republican Congressman Jason Lewis, are working to re-prioritize those who need Medicaid most, while making health insurance premiums more affordable for everyone.

Brian Marum

Woodbury

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An almost-missed message to Lewis' 'town hall meeting'

I recently received my first phone call from U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis inviting me to join an in-progress "town hall meeting." However, some system glitch occurred that only allowed me to listen to other people talking but I could not join the conversation.

Oh, sir, I wish I could have joined in. Perhaps real town hall meetings, like our forefathers held, would help you learn to listen to us rather than just broadcasting your ideologies to us. (You do have a good radio voice, though.)

For instance, when I was 15 year old, my father needlessly died of a heart attack at the age of 47. At 4 years old, he had contracted rheumatic fever that resulted in a defective heart valve. By 1955, Mayo Clinic was perfecting surgery to replace defective mitral valves and he went there for an evaluation. He was a candidate for the surgery.

However, with a pre-existing condition, he had been unable to qualify for health insurance. With a small grocery store, the income from which was needed to support his mother, wife, 5-year-old and 17-year-old daughters, and one son, he began "saving up" for the expensive surgery.

On April 16, 1959, with an ambulance siren approaching from the distance I was awakened by my mother to the news that my father was "sick" and I might be needed to help the medics. I held the front door open as my father wheeled past me on a gurney. Looked down at him, and I knew by his ashen grey complexion I was looking at the first dead body I had ever seen. His funeral was on my 16th birthday. I will never forget the abject depth of hopelessness that overwhelmed our small family. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

When President Obama was finally able to get the Affordable Care Act enacted, we all thought the days of needless death due to lack of health insurance were finally eliminated in America.

So, Rep. Lewis, your synthetically produced, robo-call-initiated "town hall meetings" deprive you of being able to be a true representative of all of us. It deprives your constituents of sharing stories that build mutual understanding of each other's issues and concerns.

Yes, you can stand behind our president, mugging for the TV cameras, and gloat over the victory of your personal involvement in trying to remove millions of low-income Americans from their health care coverage. Or...you might make more informed decisions if you held real (that means, "not fake") town hall meetings and listened to all of our life stories. Is this not what we elected you to do?

Jack Bogrand

Hastings

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