But it's health insurance that's weighing heavily on Harris lately -- as it has for many Minnesotans since the
The bill would cut billions of dollars from federal health spending and give states the option to abandon many of the insurance regulations created by the Affordable Care Act under
But it has ignited an emotional response among many of the 744,000 Minnesotans with common preexisting conditions such as asthma and diabetes -- as well as those with crippling disabilities -- who could find that insurance is priced beyond their reach.
Harris' daughter, Lily, has had millions of dollars worth of care covered by the public
"Where do we go after that?" she asked while wheeling Lily into the Gillette pediatric hospital in
Special education teacher
"It's not as if I'm unhappy with my work -- I'm not," she said. "But if my health begins to deteriorate, what do I do?"
Lawmakers' recent town hall meetings have been packed by Americans with chronic health concerns, many of whom fear the legislation would take the country back a decade, when insurers could deny coverage on the individual market to anyone with preexisting conditions.
In fact, it would only permit insurers to penalize such individuals for one year, and only if they let their prior coverage lapse more than two months. And that could occur only in states that sought waivers from current federal health insurance standards and created high-risk insurance programs to help the sickest of the sick afford coverage.
Even so, the number of people affected could end up being substantial, considering the number of Americans who lose health coverage every year due to job changes, divorces, aging out of their parents' plans, and moves, said
Two months can pass quickly, she said, if people aren't diligent about renewing coverage -- and then they'd still find coverage but at exorbitant prices.
"It's like saying I have access to a Rolls-Royce," Pollitz said. "I'm never going to afford it, so I'm never going to get it."
Of course, high costs are one of the problems in the current system, and one that Republican lawmakers believe the
"Unless we address rising costs, the insurance market will continue to worsen for families, in terms of both access and affordability,"
Five times higher?
"If that goes up more, I don't know what I'm going to have to do," he said.
Cuts will be hardest on older adults such as Knutson, who aren't yet 65 and eligible for the federal Medicare program, because the
"Far from addressing health care costs, the Republican proposal aims to go after the very things that insurance protects,"
"Saying they are going to give us more flexibility and then half the money, I mean that is not a good bargain," he said following the bill's passage.
Parents such as Harris worry the cuts will fall hardest on them because their disabled children have so many needs. Her daughter was born without a pulse and received
Now Lily loves spending time outdoors with her family, her sister's dancing, her dogs who cozy up to her, and her
"She'll always need continuous care," her mother said.
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