Some Minnesota Democrats break ranks on ACA vote

MINNEAPOLIS - Three Minnesotans were among the 39 House Democrats who crossed the aisle Friday and voted todelay keyparts of the Affordable Care Act.

Most notably 1st District Congressman Tim Walz and fellow Democrat Rick Nolan of the 8th District joined the Republican majority in a vote to allow Americans to buy health insurance plans that don't meet the new tougher standards under the ACA.

"Essentially what the Republican bill did is to say 'Let's delay health reform for a year for a good number of Americans'," Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota told KARE.

"The fact that Tim Walz and Rick Nolan have both voted with Republicans today, even though they originally supported Obamacare, is a sign of the panic, that they can feel the heat under their feet a year away from the 2014 election."

Rep. Walz, in a statement to the media, said he would've preferred a bill that also informs people that the plans in the new health marketplace are superior.

"While many folks may find higher quality, better value coverage on the marketplace, if you're insured currently and you like your plan, you should be able to keep it," Walz said.

"I believe this is a good starting point to fix the problem. And that is why I supported it today."

The third Minnesota Democrat tocross the aisle on the billwas Rep. Colin Peterson of western Minnesota, but his vote wasn't surprising considering he voted against the ACA in 2010.

The measure that passed Friday went beyond President Obama's proposal, that people facing cancellation from their old style plans be allowed to re-enroll in them for a year.

The bill would also open up that option for anyone, including those the President envisioned would be buying more comprehensive plans on the new insurance exchanges.

That changewould defeatone of the top goals of the ACA, making sure that more adverse health episodes are covered by insurancerather than falling into the "uncompensated care" that has become a growing burden for providers and government health programs.

"For the insurers this is a nightmare, because they're expected to provide the newer, comprehensive policies for Americans," Jacobs remarked.

"And yet here at the last moment, only a month and a half from the start date, the President throws them under the bus. And Republicans roll over them with a tank."

Two other Minnesota Democrats, Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Betty McCollum, remained in the Democratic fold for the vote. Both of them representsolid DFL districts in the Twin Cities metro area.

Walz, on the other hand, represents a southern Minnesota swing district. Nolan's northeastern Minnesota district is more Democratic leaning traditionally, but the election of Chip Cravaack in 2010 proved a Republican can win there.

Jacobs said Democrats are watching President Obama's approval rating sink, and are becoming increasingly anxious about the ramifications for those who have supported the ACA.

"The policy will end up working out over time, but the politics right now is toxic," Jacobs said.

"They're just caught in a bubbling cauldron, politically."


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