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Tipton during tele-townhall: Nobody is getting cut from Medicaid

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PUEBLO – During a tele-townhall on Monday evening U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents Pueblo, the San Luis Valley and Western Slope, reiterated to voters that a GOP healthcare bill will not kick people off their Medicaid coverage.

“No one is going to be cut off,” Tipton told a caller who raised concerns that he and his neighbor might lose health insurance because they are disabled and use Medicaid.

“If you still qualify… services will continue,” the lawmaker said, echoing several Senators and White House advisers who appeared on news shows over the weekend backing the bill and making the argument that the legislation was not about cutting Medicaid coverage.

Voters wanted to know Tipton’s stance on the Senate GOP bill, which Donald Trump claimed had more heart than the House version Tipton voted for last month.

One caller asked Tipton if he thought the bill was “Obamacare lite.” Tipton didn’t specifically address that aspect of the question.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its findings on the bill earlier Monday. The CBO’s report said the Senate bill would likely cause 22 million people to be uninsured, slightly less compared to the 23 million in the House bill.

The budget office also points out that the Senate bill seems to mean big cuts for Medicaid — and ultimately a bigger bill for the states.

“The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid,” the report said. “Spending on the program would decline in 2026 by 26 percent in comparison with what CBO projects under current law — and from changes to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for nongroup health insurance.”

By 2026, the federal government would cut 1 of every 4 dollars it spends on Medicaid, according to a breakdown by the Washington Post.

Many Republicans, including White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, claim the Senate bill actually gives states more flexibility than under Obamacare because compensation would be on a per capita system. The reality, some argue, is that the legislation would force states to make tougher decisions on what to spend on Medicaid.

Some states, the Washington Post points out, “would pay twice as much as they are now to continue coverage for those covered under the expansion. The net effect of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, would be 14.4 million fewer people enrolled in Medicaid by 2026 — and $834 billion less spent by the federal government.”

In Pueblo, approximately 40 percent of people are on Medicaid and in rural Colorado 185,000 people utilize healthcare because of Medicaid coverage, according to the Colorado Health Institute. 57,000 of those have Medicaid coverage because of expansion made possible by Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Democrats Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper highlighted those numbers in a recent news conference after a health care roundtable in Pueblo. Both also said Obamacare has in no way been a perfect system either.

If passed, the Senate version would cut the deficit by $202 billion more than the House bill in the coming decade. The Associated Press reports that savings could attract the votes of moderate Senators who are still on the fence about the bill due to concerns of Medicaid cuts.

It’s so far unclear if the Senate has the votes to the pass the bill by the end of the week, when the Senate breaks for recess.

During the call-in townhall Tipton applauded the Senate bill for keeping provisions that allow those who have a pre-existing condition to get coverage. He added that the bill “puts forward a number of ideas… that work for small businesses.”

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Written by Kara Mason

Kara Mason is PULP's news editor. She is also the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter president. Kara freelances for other regional publications, covering government, politics and the environment.

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