Good morning and TGIF. Digest? Yes, here it is.
1. Minnesota stands to lose billions of dollars in federal funding if Senate Republicans are successful next week in their latest bid to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Supporters of what's called the Graham-Cassidy bill say it returns control of health care policy to the states. But many Minnesota health officials counter that it endangers care of seniors and people with disabilities, and would lead to even more costly premiums in the individual market. Like other states, Minnesota under the proposal would get a federal health care block grant, with flexibility in how to spend it. But an analysis by the Washington-based healthcare consulting firm Avalere Health found that Minnesota would lose $8 billion over the next decade compared to what it would receive under the Affordable Care Act. (Star Tribune)
2. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will join Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to debate health care policy with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. It'll come during a 90 minute "town hall" event broadcast by CNN. Graham and Cassidy are the namesake sponsors of the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ahead of an end-of-the-month deadline, while Sanders introduced a "Medicare for all" health care bill with a third of the Senate Democratic caucus signing on. (CNN)
3. Mediation sessions between Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders of the Legislature are costing taxpayers hundreds of dollars per hour, but the public has little chance of learning what is happening. The political leaders began closed-door meetings with a mediator Thursday in hopes of ending a budget dispute that has held up funding for House and Senate operations. The mediation was ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which wants at least a status report by the end of the month. The mediator is being paid $257 per hour and the private attorneys for both sides are also earning legal fees ranging from $300 an hour to $500 an hour. (MPR News)
4. Minnesota's school leaders say new opportunities for free preschool are in high demand this school year. Funding approved by the Legislature last session provides $70 million in new spending on three of the state's main early education programs. It's the latest in several years' worth of increased early education spending under Gov. Dayton. Some of the money is specifically for low-income students and students deemed at-risk for other reasons. Other funds provide free preschool for any 4-year-old, regardless of family income. Districts get the new state funds at the end of the school year based on how many preschoolers they served. More than a hundred districts and charter schools that applied for funding this year did not receive it. (MPR News)
5. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reiterated during a visit to Minnesota on Thursday that he’s “not a big fan” of President Donald Trump and said the president’s tendency to dwell on the last election is holding his agenda back in a rocky first year in office.“He has not shown the ability to unite the country around a common purpose. His obsession with his own election is weird to be honest with you,” Bush said. “Get over it man, you won. It’s not like he lost. If you’d lost I could see him going to get therapy or something. But you won. You’re president of the United States. You’re not a victim. Get on with it now.” He added, “That has slowed down any success he has had.” (MPR News)