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Minnesota GOP House members seek changes in health bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota’s U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota’s U.S. House Republicans today sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging changes to health-care reform legislation as the House and Senate bills are merged. Interestingly, at least two of the concerns listed by Reps. Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen are shared by several of their counterparts across the aisle.

One involves a compromise that helped get Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson on board with the Senate’s bill. It would require the federal government pick up the tab for expanding Medicaid in Nebraska – and only Nebraska. The Minnesota lawmakers also took exception to additional aid for Vermont and Louisiana, home to two other late-to-support-the-bill senators whose votes were seen as crucial to passing the Senate’s health care bill.

“In these instances, it seems political considerations have trumped fairness, and we request this issue be resolved in the final legislation,” they wrote.

Rep. Betty McCollum said of the provision that “that’s why we have conference committees” — to remove such provisions. Even Nelson said the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback” is unlikely to survive the merger of the House and Senate compromise.

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Another is geographic disparities in Medicare reimbursement rates, which currently result in hospitals in some parts of Florida and Texas getting paid twice as much as the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for doing the same medical procedures. That has led to a push to add a quality-of-care index to Medicare reimbursement rates. Both McCollum and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have called that their number one goal for the health-reform merger negotiations.