Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Jul 28 2017

Heitkamp Statement on Vote against New Republican Health Care Repeal Bill that would have Hurt ND Families, Children

Heitkamp Continues to Call for Senators to Work Across the Aisle to Improve Health Care for North Dakotans & Continues to Offer Ideas

Senator’s Medium Post has Videos from North Dakotans telling their stories about how the Republican Health Care Bill would have Hurt them

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today voted against the new Republican bill that would have repealed the current health reform law, putting North Dakotans’ livelihoods at risk by ripping away health care for 16 million Americans and forcing health care premiums to spike for many others by 20 percent or more. The bill did not pass.

The Republican bill would have effectively repealed the current health reform law by dismantling core pieces of it and hurting tens of thousands of North Dakotans. Under the bill, more than 34,000 North Dakotans would have lost health coverage, North Dakotans’ health care premiums would have jump by an average of $794 per year, and North Dakota hospitals would have been left with $31 million in uncompensated costs – all by 2026. Additionally, hundreds of organizations opposed the bill, including AARP, the North Dakota Medical Association, and the North Dakota Hospital Association.

Heitkamp posted videos on Medium of many North Dakotans telling their stories about how the Republican health care bill would hurt them. Click here to view the Medium post with the videos from North Dakota children with special needs, parents of children with disabilities, individuals with pre-existing conditions like cancer, seniors in nursing homes, and many more.

“Far too often in Congress, politics dictates legislation, and it needs to stop,” said Heitkamp. “The bill the Senate voted on tonight was a bad bill. I could not support a bill that was crafted behind closed doors and would have ripped health care away from tens of thousands of North Dakotans or made it unaffordable. History will remember where each of us stood during this vote. We should be here to do what is best for the American people. Many hoped this bill would pass for political reasons, instead it failed for the right reason – because it would have hurt our neighbors and communities. Perhaps the failure of this bill is a long overdue wake up call to those on both sides of the aisle that to accomplish results, members of Congress truly need to work together and put partisan politics aside. Republicans and Democrats should be able to join together to pass real, transparent, bipartisan reforms to improve health care for families, as I’ve been working to accomplish. This conversation is long overdue. For years I’ve said the health reform law isn’t perfect, no law ever is. But we can make it work better through needed reforms, and I have many ideas that I’ll keep offering. I’m hopeful there is now an opening for progress. My office door remains wide open.”

Over the past three and a half years, Heitkamp has offered many reforms that would help the current health reform law work better for families and businesses. She will continue to try to work with Senate Republicans to reach compromise solutions that make health care affordable and accessible for North Dakotans. Since 2013, Heitkamp has also met regularly with her health care advisory board – comprised of health care leaders across North Dakota – to talk with them about health care in the state and improving the health reform law.

Two weeks ago, Heitkamp introduced a bill to start the discussion about needed health care reforms. The bill would ease the current cliff on premium assistance that many middle class families and seniors face -- putting affordable care out of reach. Her bill would help more families afford health insurance in the individual market by smoothing the ‘subsidy cliff’ for Americans who earn even nominal sums over 400 percent of federal poverty level. Click here and here for video on YouTube of Heitkamp speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate about her bill.

In June, Heitkamp led about 15 Democratic senators on the floor of the U.S. Senate in calling on Republicans to work with them to pass commonsense legislation to immediately provide certainty in the health care marketplaces and lower premiums for consumers. Similar provisions were included in a Senate Republican health care bill, reinforcing that these are issues Republicans and Democrats should be able to work together on to address. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans didn’t agree to these bills.

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Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov